The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) has reported its busiest year on record – and called for continued support to maintain the service.

The charity, which operates a helicopter emergency service for North England, responded to 1,620 incidents in 2021, of which 457 fell within the Cumbria region.

GNAAS brought in £7m this year from donations, grants and funding, which is a £1.15m loss compared to that of 2019/2020.

It takes £6.7m to keep the dedicated service in the air.

GNAAS, like many other charities and businesses, has been severely affected by the pandemic.

Public relations officer, Araminta Hartley, said: “We saw a reduction in general donations, which is to be expected as job losses increased throughout the country and people aren’t in the best situation financially.

“We had lost a lot of our community fundraising opportunities as a result of Covid-19, including outdoor donation points and also a lot of our big fundraising events.”

Events such as the Great North Run is a big fundraising opportunity for GNAAS, but after the 2020 event was postponed alongside the GNAAS charity ball, further pressure was placed to ensure the charity maintained a level above it’s operational funding requirement.

Out of the incidents GNAAS has been called out to this year, car crashes remain the most common, reporting a total of 428 incidents – with cardiac arrest following closely behind making up for 394 events requiring emergency assistance.

Although funding figures are down by a seventh, Ms Hartley said the number of responded to incidents continued to be similar to that of previous years.

“Whether your able to fundraise event on our behalf or even just a small donation, everything counts,” she said.

GNAAS is looking for anyone to help raise money on behalf of the emergency service.

“Whether your able to fundraise in events such as the Great North West Run on our behalf, or even just a small donation, everything counts," she reiterated.

“We’re all greatly appreciative and without the donations we wouldn’t be able to help those in need of emergency services.”