Photo exhibition highlights Midlands Air Ambulance rescue missions

Mission Critical, an exhibition of thought-provoking photography telling the stories of some of Midlands Air Ambulance Charity’s most critically ill and injured former patients, officially launches on Friday.

Marcus Watkin with one of the air ambulance crew
Marcus Watkin with one of the air ambulance crew

The photographic exhibition features 17 former patients, including from Shropshire and the Black Country, whose lives were saved in part by the pre-hospital emergency service they received.

Commissioned to commemorate its 30th anniversary, the project highlights how Midlands Air Ambulance Charity’s clinical and operational skills and expertise has evolved during the past three decades, told in pictures and the words of the patients.

They include Yasmin Jukes from Whitchurch, Marcus Watkin from Shrewsbury and John Walton from Dudley as well as Leah Washington who had to have her leg amputated after an accident at the Alton Towers theme park in 2015.

Marcus Watkin

Marcus Watkin has been recognised as one of the air ambulance's most dedicated fundraisers.

He has been supporting the charity since he was involved in a serious accident while riding a motorbike in the county almost 20 years ago. His injuries, inflicted when he was hit by a car on the wrong side of the road, left him paralysed.

He now fundraises tirelessly for the charity and in 2018 was named its fundraiser of the year.

Yasmin Dukes

Yasmin Dukes suffered a traumatic brain injury when she fell backwards down the stairs in February last year, aged just 17.

Her mother Caroline said Yasmin was drifting in and out of consciousness as the air ambulance arrived.

Surgeons at the University Hospital North Midlands, in Stoke, found she had fractured the base of her skull and she was in hospital for just under six weeks.

John Walton

Dudley's John Walton was playing squash with his friend of 40 years, Clive Fletcher, at Bert Williams Leisure Centre in Bilston in January when he suffered a cardiac arrest.

Clive knew how to do CPR and immediately started helping John until the staff at the leisure centre took over and used a defibrillator on him.

Among those who arrived to help was a team from the Midland's air ambulance and John's treatment was captured on film for the television programme, Ambulance: Code Red.

John Walton after his cardiac arrest

Their portraits and others helped by the Midlands Air Ambulance were captured in black and white by renowned fashion and lifestyle photographer Nik Hartley, whose list of prestigious clients include British Vogue, Elle Italia, Karl Lagerfeld and Tommy Hilfiger, amongst others.

Nik was keen to support the emergency service after learning it does not receive any government or NHS funding for its lifesaving daily missions.

The outdoor exhibition, which will be officially launched in Chamberlain Square, Birmingham, on Friday, will tour across the six counties that the lifesaving charity covers - the West Midlands, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire.

Mission Critical is partnered by Safeguard Medical, The Wesleyan and Irwin Mitchell LLP and supported by DRP Group.

Leah Washington, from South Yorkshire, had to have her leg amputated after an accident at the Alton Towers in 2015

Emma Gray, chief operating officer for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity said: “For our 30th anniversary, we wanted to showcase our service in a different way, and we are delighted with the photography captured by the talented Nik Hartley, it’s stunning and powerful. This exhibition will help us commemorate 30 years of lifesaving service, whilst celebrating the courage and bravery of former patients, who have been treated by our specialist crew, by telling their survival stories.

“We hope that this activity will put a spotlight on our lifesaving service, for which demand is set to increase, in line with the region’s growing population base. Additionally, the type and nature of missions are becoming increasingly complex, meaning our pre-hospital emergency care service is needed more than ever."

To discover more about the Mission Critical campaign, visit

To find out more about the life saving work of the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, visit and follow the charity on social media.

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