AN air ambulance director has retired from his role after more than a decade.

Cliff Gale has retired as operations director after 16 years with Essex and Herts Air Ambulance (EHAAT).

Mr Gale joined the charity in 2007 after 30 years with Sussex Police, where he gained hands-on experience managing the police air operation.

Since joining EHAAT he has helped the charity achieve numerous milestones as it expanded.

Mr Gale has been commended by colleagues for helping to set standards in pre-hospital care in the early days of air ambulance service.

His achievements have been many, with the most notable being playing an instrumental role in expanding the charity’s operations into Hertfordshire, cementing EHAAT’s future with its airbases at Earls Colne and North Weald and buying its first owned helicopter.

Mr Gale will not be saying a final goodbye to the charity, as he will continue to work with the service part-time to oversee the implementation of its carbon reduction strategy, along with other projects.

He is handing over the ‘operational reins’ to Paul Curtis, who becomes EHAAT’s new aviation and operations director.

Mr Curtis has more than 25 years in the aviation industry, piloting helicopters for the military, air ambulances, the police and for the offshore oil and gas industries. He has also flown for, flying Boeing 737s.

Building on the work already achieved, he will be working with the EHAAT team to help achieve future strategic goals and ambitious plans to provide the highest standards of pre-hospital care for patients.

EHAAT CEO Jane Gurney said: “We are thankful for Mr Gale’s instrumental impact to the growth of the charity.

“His passion, energy, relentless drive and dedication has been clear, and his impact has been felt throughout the whole sector.

“However, I am hugely excited that someone as experienced as Mr Curtis has joined our team and I know he will do a fantastic job at guiding the charity through our next exciting chapter.”