Yorkshire Air Ambulance Chairman to retire after 19 years

Peter Sunderland, the well-known and long-standing Chairman of Yorkshire Air Ambulance has announced he is to retire after 19 years with the life-saving charity.

Peter who is from Huddersfield, will officially retire as Chairman and Trustee at the end of June. He joined the YAA in 2004 after retiring from his role at the RMC Group PLC, where he worked for over 27 years as one of their UK Directors, bringing with him a wealth of experience in senior management, monitoring & delivering of business targets, workshops, strategic development, financial & budgetary control, and project implementation. He became Chairman in 2006 and has since led the transformation of the Charity into the successful organisation it is today.

Peter commented: “I have been a Trustee of Yorkshire Air Ambulance for 19 years now and Chairman for 17 of those years, however, I feel now is the right time to step down from my role with the Charity. Therefore, I will be retiring as both Chairman and Trustee at the end of June.

When I first joined the YAA in 2004 it was a very different organisation from the one that it is today. We had one leased Bolkow helicopter that operated from a Portakabin at Leeds Bradford airport. The administration was carried out from a small office in Dean Clough Mills in Halifax. Income from donations was very small and hardly covered our costs. A different situation from the very robust and stable position that the Charity finds itself in today, and I am so very proud of how the YAA has evolved over the years. It has truly been a team effort.”

Peter has led on the implementation of many important milestones over the years including purchasing helicopters, developing the two air bases at Nostell and Topcliffe, and gaining the Charity’s own Air Operators Certificate – the first of its kind at the time.

Abby Barmby, Director of Marketing & Communications added “Peter has truly been the pillar of YAA for nearly twenty years now and will be greatly missed by us all. His caring, yet professional leadership combined with extensive business experience proved invaluable in driving a clear vision, purpose, and strategy for the charity over the last nearly twenty years. He introduced and implemented a robust financial accounting foundation which has been built on over the years, resulting in the charity being in the strong position it is today.  He really has made YAA the respected organisation it is, not just as our Chairman but as a true Ambassador too -a legacy we will all carry forward.

On behalf of everyone at YAA we’d like to express our heartfelt thanks to both Peter and his wife Margaret who has been a wonderful support to him over the years. We are indebted to them for all they have done for the charity during Peter’s tenure as Chairman.”

When Peter stands down at the end of June, current Vice-Chairman Mike Harrop will step into the role of Chairman from the beginning of July.

Mike brings a wealth of experience from his 30-year career in the RAF including being the Station Commander at RAF Scampton, the home of the Red Arrows. He also has an extensive and in-depth knowledge of YAA after initially joining as a volunteer back in 2017, before joining the Board in 2019, and taking on the role of Vice-Chairman in 2022.

Peter added, “I am delighted to be handing the Chairmanship of YAA over to Mike who I know will take YAA forward and build on what we’ve already established with a great team to support him.”

As well as his work with YAA, Peter has also been a member of the Wakefield Cathedral Council and is a past President and Subscribers Secretary of Huddersfield Choral Society. In 2007 he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire and was awarded an MBE by HM Queen Elizabeth II in 2016 for ‘Voluntary service to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and the community in West Yorkshire’.

For further information about YAA, please visit www.yaa.org.uk.