A RETIRED businessman has been recognised for volunteering with the ambulance service for 25 years.

Ambulance car service driver (ACS) John Arkwright, from Peterlee, has dedicated much of his spare time to the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) Trust since 1994, transporting patients to and from their homes to hospital.

Mr Arkwright wanted to give something back to his community and thought he could do so as a volunteer driver.

Quarter of a century later, he still enjoys meeting new people and said, even though it can be difficult when patients are very poorly and have reoccurring hospital appointments, it brings him great comfort to know he has helped them in some way.

The 72-year-old received a long service award at this year's NEAS volunteer awards ceremony, held at Emirates Riverside Stadium in Chester-le-Street, last week.

He said: “I get to meet different people every day, helping transport patients to and from hospital who are sometimes very poorly. I’ve been volunteering for 25 years and even though it can be difficult when patients don’t have a good outcome, I really enjoy meeting patients and learn about them and their families. I regularly transport some patients and I look forward to seeing them on their next journey.”

In the last year, 280 volunteers gave186,000 hours to the ambulance service as community first responders, ambulance car service drivers and hospital porters.

NEAS acting chief operating officer Victoria Court said: “The service values the support of all its volunteers and in the last year, some volunteers have been issued with new equipment and uniform. ACS drivers have had breakaway training and enhanced annual training in everything from equality and diversity, to data security and health and safety.

“CFRs have had training for non-injury fallers and how to help keep patients safe, as well as assisting clinicians in the emergency control room into decision making. CFR volunteers have also registered on Good Sam, which is a mobile app which can alert them to a nearby patient suffering a cardiac arrest.

“The Department of Health has asked NEAS to be the first in the country to trail the National Mobilisation App (NMA) with our CFRs, which enables critical communications between responding resources and control rooms.”