A pilot with more than 16 years’ experience saving lives has been hailed as the best in the business.
Captain Neil Airey, who flies out of Blackpool Airport, was named the UK’s air ambulance pilot of the year.
The North West Air Ambulance pilot was recognised for his efforts at the Association of Air Ambulances’ awards ceremony.
Capt Airey was lauded for his ‘lifetime of dedication and exemplary service both in and out of the aircraft’, having flown for the charity since 2001.
He was given his award by TV presenters Rav Wilding and Sophie Long.
Judges commended Neil’s deftness at flying in challenging conditions and his ‘unflappability’ when facing difficult situations.
Praised as an ‘incredible role model’, Capt Airey has flown and attended over 6,000 missions across the North West.
He has also kept the North West Air Ambulance’s helicopters in the air thanks to his fundraising efforts.
He said he was ‘blown away’ to receive the award.
“I could never have predicted that after boarding the charity’s helicopters for the first time all those years ago, I would’ve received this award,” he added.
“Knowing my part in helping people – often in particularly grave situations – has been recognised, is humbling.”
Heather Arrowsmith, North West Air Ambulance Charity chief executive, said: “Neil is truly one of a kind, and everyone is over the moon for him.
“This award is enormously well-deserved.”