Inspiration and Expertise at the AAA Conference

5th December 2018

The Association of Air Ambulances (AAA) Conference, which took place recently at the Chelsea Harbour Hotel in London, heard from speakers who were full of ideas for organisations to take their performance to the next level.

Jo Tanner, a PR and Crisis Management expert who masterminded Boris Johnson’s 2008 Mayoral Election Campaign made sure delegates were wide awake first thing in the morning by alerting them to all the crises their organisation might face. With experience in working through some major crises – including the London theatre roof collapse, a Drayton Manor Park ride death, MP scandals and more – Jo was perfectly placed to give delegates some serious food for thought. ‘You’re not generally blamed for having a crisis but for how you handle it,’ she said, adding that sometimes a crisis can actually turn into a real opportunity.

Rob Woods, a trainer, coach and author on fundraising, talked about donor-focused leadership. He stressed that generally people do care: they don’t want to just be a charity giver, they want to be part of the solution to a particular problem. A big part of a charity’s success, says Rob, is that the leader is donor-focused.

The final speaker of the morning was Simon Beresford, Director of Fundraising and Marketing at the Disasters Emergency Committee who talked about how DEC brings together leading charities in the face of international disasters, devising and executing campaigns in less than 72 hours. Simon made clear the importance of digital media and how so much revolves around the smartphone but also emphasised that Direct Mail remains the organisation’s second largest channel for donations.

The focus for the afternoon turned initially to medical and operational matters, with Dr John Chatterjee from London’s Air Ambulance giving an excellent and accessible talk on Applying Clinical Governance Principles to Charity Operations; before Thames Valley Air Ambulance’s James Raitt spoke about Clinical Performance Indicators for Critical Care Interventions.

Victoria Milligan then gave a talk that will live long in the memory. Victoria described the almost unimaginable devastation of losing her husband and daughter in an accident that also saw her son badly injured and Victoria herself lose her leg.  She went on to describe how she dealt with the devastating grief, how she recovered, decided she needed to bounce back for the sake of her children, and how she has seen the return of the brave, optimistic Victoria she had been before.

The Conference was closed by Professor Stephen Powis, National Medical Director for NHS England, who gave an overview of the NHS now and plans for the future, as well as about how highly he values the air ambulance services.

To view more from the conference, please visit

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