Princess Anne visits Hebburn ambulance station to recognise outstanding staff and award Queen's medals

A Royal visit in Hebburn saw North East Ambulance Service staff recognised with the Queen’s Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct.

Her Royal Highness Princess Anne visited the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) station in Hebburn to give out the medals and recognise the outstanding contribution of 14 frontline ambulance staff, who between them have more than 285 years of service.

During the visit, Princess Anne met with ambulance staff, toured the station, and witnessed a demonstration of a response to a terrorist incident from the Hazardous Area Response Team (HART).

The visit had originally been planned for last year to mark the 10th anniversary of HART and the region’s NHS 111 service but was put on hold due to the pandemic.

Princess Anne with North East Ambulance staff who received the Queen's Medal For Long Service and Good Conduct


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Among the recipients of the Queen’s Medal For Long Service and Good Conduct was John Barnfather, who worked at South Shields Ambulance Station for 25 years.

John, from Wideopen, said: “There’s been a lot of ups and downs over the time I’ve been here. I’m going into my 31st year now but the one thing that stands out to me is the friendships I’ve made and the comradery of my work colleagues.”

Fellow award recipient Clare Graham, from Sunderland, has worked in the ambulance service for 26 years and is now a clinical care manager, looking after frontline staff within the Pallion cluster, covering Pallion, Rainton Bridge, and South Shields.

She said: “It’s a proud moment today. I’ve been in the service for 26 years and this is definitely just an overwhelming moment. It’s such a privilege to have one of the Royal Family presenting the award and I feel very honoured.”


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Princess Anne talking to North East Ambulance staff

The Ambulance Service (Emergency Duties) Long Service and Good Conduct Medal is designed for emergency ambulance staff who have worked on the frontline for more than 20 years.

NEAS Chief Executive Helen Ray said: “We were incredibly honoured to welcome Her Royal Highness to our service to mark the outstanding contribution our teams have made to the North East.

“I’m so very proud of the contribution all our teams have made to keep the North East public safe and today we especially recognise the huge contribution that our HART and 111 colleagues have made.”


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The Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor Pat Hay said: “It was a real honour to welcome Her Royal Highness to our wonderful Borough to meet our incredible ambulance workers.

Princess Anne arriving at Hebburn Ambulance Station in Monkton Industrial Estate

“These amazing highly skilled paramedics are right on the frontline risking their own lives to save others every day in some of the most hazardous and crucial moments of an emergency. Our valuable NHS 111 service also continues to be at the forefront of our healthcare services, keeping people safe and supporting them to get the help they need. This service has never been more important than over these challenging past 18 months.

“They are all unsung heroes and it is wonderful to see them recognised for their long service in this way, with a prestigious awards ceremony in the presence of royalty.”


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The Lord-Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear, Mrs Susan Winfield, said: “Every year it gives me great pleasure to meet the men and women who have given so much to our region over their years of service to present them with their Queen’s Medal.

"I can only imagine how hard the last year has been for all those working for our health and emergency services and I was delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness to such an outstanding facility and introduce her to some of the teams helping to keep our region safe.”

John Barnfather, who worked at South Shields Ambulance Station for 25 years, receiving his Queen's medal from Princess Anne

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Princess Anne during her visit to the North East Ambulance service facility in Hebburn.
Clare Graham, from Sunderland, receiving her award from Princess Anne
The Royal visitor arrives at Hebburn.
Princess Anne talking to North East Ambulance Service staff.