Prince William writes letter thanking colleagues as he leaves East Anglian Air Ambulance after two years

Prince William at Cambridge Airport on Monday 13th July on the first day of his new job as a helicop

Prince William at Cambridge Airport on Monday 13th July on the first day of his new job as a helicopter pilot for the East Anglian Air Ambulance. (Image GEOFF ROBINSON PHOTOGRAPHY) - Credit: Archant

The Duke of Cambridge leaves his role as a pilot for the East Anglian Air Ambulance today. Here, he tells of his pride at doing the job, and pays tribute to his colleagues, and to the people of East Anglia.

The Duke of Cambridge pictured when he started his job with the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA). P

The Duke of Cambridge pictured when he started his job with the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA). Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire - Credit: PA

As I arrive for work at East Anglian Air Ambulance this evening, my last shift with this incredible team, I wanted to say thank you to my colleagues, team mates and the people of East Anglia who I have been so proud to serve.

Over the past two years I have met people from across the region who were in the most desperate of circumstances. As part of the team, I have been invited into people’s homes to share moments of extreme emotion, from relief that we have given someone a fighting chance, to profound grief.

I have watched as incredibly skilled doctors and paramedics have saved people’s lives. These experiences have instilled in me a profound respect for the men and women who serve in our emergency services, which I hope to continue to champion even as I leave the profession. I am hugely grateful for having had this experience.

From the moment I joined, when that phone rang at the base for the first time, it was clear that I was a fellow professional, a pilot with a job to do – in such a team there can be no other option, but still I am grateful to my colleagues for accepting me so readily.

At EAAA, our helicopters are airborne within four minutes of getting a call and can reach patients anywhere in the region within 25 minutes. We land in residential gardens, school playing fields, beaches, roadsides, anywhere it is safe to do so.

As a pilot, my job is to get the medical team to the patient as quickly and safely as possible, so they can give treatment as soon as possible after injury. We are sent to only one per cent of ambulance call outs, where having a trauma team and getting the hospital to the patient quickly, can mean the difference between life and death.

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I have watched our medical team perform surgery on a patient within minutes of jumping off the helicopter – their level of skill is astounding. As a pilot at the scene, we will sometimes try and help by co-ordinating the area around the medical team, carrying their kit and doing whatever it takes to ensure they can focus on their work. It is a joint effort, and everyone plays his or her role with great professionalism and dedication.

As a team, we travel to some very daunting incidents and we have been through some incredibly tough times together, witnessing some appalling tragedies. One of the first call outs I made was to a young man who had committed suicide; it was an incredibly tough day and had a profound effect on all of us, not least in my determination now to draw attention to this issue.

The former RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot has been working as a co-pilot transporting patien

The former RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot has been working as a co-pilot transporting patients to hospital from emergencies ranging from road accidents to heart attacks. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Another rescue that sticks in my mind was to a young man who was involved in a road accident. His uncle in the car with him sadly didn’t survive, and I was sure that from what we were faced with he wouldn’t either – but thanks to the skills of our medical team he is alive today. We were first on scene and in such circumstances we all had to pitch in to fight to save the young man’s life. It is days like this, when you know you have made a difference, that give you the determination to keep going.

I have seen at first-hand how our doctors, paramedics, police, fire and emergency services teams work together with such skill and professionalism in stressful situations. I have also been very fortunate to work with an organisation which recognises the stress its staff deals with and puts their welfare as such a high priority.

You need to be physically and mentally fit to do this job properly and so we are encouraged to talk through the things we have seen, to share the trauma within the team. I now know though that there are things that cannot be unseen and experiences that our first responders deal with on a daily basis that they will carry with them for life. I have the utmost respect for the job that our emergency services carry out, without fuss, on a daily basis.

Having had the great good fortune to experience serving the East Anglian Air Ambulance, I would like to finally say thank you to the community who fund, support and keep the air ambulance flying.

Prince William will leave his role at the East Anglian Air Ambulance on July 27.

Prince William will leave his role at the East Anglian Air Ambulance on July 27. - Credit: Archant

As I hang up my flight suit, I am proud to have served with such an incredible team of people, who save lives across the region every day.

Prince William welcoming The Queen and Prince Philip at the opening of the new Cambridge air ambulan

Prince William welcoming The Queen and Prince Philip at the opening of the new Cambridge air ambulance base last year. - Credit: Archant

Prince William talking to Captain Dave Kelly at Cambridge airport. Picture: GEOFF ROBINSON PHOTOGRAP

Prince William talking to Captain Dave Kelly at Cambridge airport. Picture: GEOFF ROBINSON PHOTOGRAPHY - Credit: Archant

The Queen and Prince Philip officially opened the new Cambridge air ambulance base after being shown

The Queen and Prince Philip officially opened the new Cambridge air ambulance base after being shown around by their grandson and co-pilot of the air ambulance Prince William. - Credit: Archant

The Queen pictured with crew members, including her grandson, the Duke of Cambridge, during a visit

The Queen pictured with crew members, including her grandson, the Duke of Cambridge, during a visit to the new East Anglian Air Ambulance base at Cambridge Airport. Picture: Niklas Halle'n/ PA Wire - Credit: Archant

Prince William welcomed his grandparents the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh to the new East Anglian Air

Prince William welcomed his grandparents the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh to the new East Anglian Air Ambulance base in Cambridge last year. - Credit: Archant