Meet the Pilots
Captain Ben Richardson
I decided to be a helicopter pilot when I was eight years old and started flying ten years later, gaining my private pilot’s licence at university. I won a commercial licence sponsorship and shortly afterwards began flying to offshore oil installations in the northern North Sea. Since then, I have flown heads of state and VIPs across Europe and the Middle East, and Search & Rescue for HM Coastguard in Scotland.
However, it has always been my desire to be a HEMS pilot and I fulfilled this long-held ambition by joining Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex in 2018. It is an honour to work alongside such dedicated medical crews and for a progressive charity that is always looking to improve its service in both medical and aviation innovation.
I spend my spare time chasing after my children, going for the occasional run and the seemingly never-ending task of renovating our house.
Captain Blaine Ashurst
Following 23 years in the Army I joined the Air Ambulance in 1999 becoming Chief Pilot in the year 2000. The service has since grown and a second helicopter is now based at Redhill, covering the counties of Surrey & Sussex. I work closely with the Operations Director, Leigh Curtis, to ensure our operations are carried out safely and efficiently and within HEMS guidelines. I have been flying for over 25 years and have travelled all over the world in my previous career which has led to some varied flight experiences, in variety of testing environments. I have also worked as a helicopter instructor and have experience in the police helicopter world.
Captain Nick Bramley
I’m the Chief Pilot for Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex. Prior to this I served with the Army, completing 22 years service, where I flew helicopters in various theatres of operations and spent a number of years as a flying instructor on the Lynx Helicopter. On retiring from military service I continued flying at various Air Ambulance and Police units within the UK until joining Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex, which had been a long time ambition of mine. It is a very demanding but wholly fulfilling role and I am honoured to work within such a dedicated team of professionals serving the people of Kent Surrey and Sussex.
Captain Graham Cannell
I joined the team at Redhill in June 2014 from a Royal Navy background, having previously flown maritime Lynx and Commando Sea King helicopters in various theatres across the world. I have found HEMS flying to be a challenging and highly rewarding experience which has enabled me to use some of the skills I gained in the military whilst pursuing a worthwhile flying career in civilian life. I have particularly enjoyed meeting and working with the dedicated doctors, paramedics and staff at the charity, and have been consistently impressed by the life-changing effect of such a small group of people. I am extremely lucky to have such an enjoyable job! In my spare time I enjoy running, cycling and skiing.
Captain Jon Evered
It is a huge privilege to be a part of this dedicated and highly professional team, in a role which provides a great deal of satisfaction for me. I joined the charity in 2015, from a background flying the Sea King Mk4 in the Royal Navy’s Commando Helicopter Force. The aviation within HEMS is key in shaving vital minutes off response times for those in need, and delivering highly specialised clinical care to a scene. There is never a dull day, and the 3 counties are a lovely area in which to operate. I live just up the road from Redhill in Horley with my wife, 2 young children and black lab, and like to spend my time enjoying the countryside, running, swimming and cycling.
First Officer Rob Foster
I started flying helicopters in 2009 around the Herefordshire countryside and the beautiful Malvern hills. Since then, I have been fortunate enough to fly in some wonderful places around Europe. I’ve done various types of work as a Pilot including; instruction, commercial transport, mountain flying, aerial traffic reports and now, proud to work as a HEMS Pilot with the charity. When I’m not flying I enjoy sailing, wakeboarding and when possible, a bit of snowboarding.
Captain Kevin Goddard
I retired from the Armed Forces after a career of more than 23 years flying and service around the world and I joined the Air Ambulance team in December 2007. It is a privilege to be working with such a dedicated, friendly and professional team, I look forward to assisting with the good work that actually makes a difference to the people of South East, England while doing what I enjoy most; flying.
First Officer Mark Howard-Smith
I completed my Commercial Pilot training at Cranfield Aerodrome, Bedfordshire in late 2008 and in April 2013 was fortunate enough to join Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex. After completing the required type rating on the MD902 and NVG (Night Vision Goggle) training I commenced flying for the charity as a Co-Pilot in June 2013.
Since the launch of the Sussex and Surrey aircraft in 2007 I have been working as a volunteer for the charity attending talks, fund raising and trying to raise awareness of the fantastic work that the charity does. It has been a long term ambition to work on the Air Ambulance and it is a privilege to now be working alongside such highly skilled Doctors, Paramedics and Pilots.
I live in Horsham, West Sussex and when I am not working I like to keep active by going to the gym, swimming and running. I am also a member of a syndicate in a Hot Air Balloon and have had some fantastic flights over the stunning Sussex countryside as well as abroad.
First Officer Greg Keily
I started my flying career in 2011 after serving in the New Zealand Army for 6 years and working in the mining industry in Australia for 3 years. I learnt to fly in the UK and once qualified, began working as a flight instructor. As well as instructing I also gained experience conducting commercial transport flights into major events, conducting sight seeing tours and also carrying out low level pipeline inspection.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with the team at the Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex and contribute to such a worthwhile organisation.
In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my wife and our two young kids.
First Officer David Milton
I first started flying in 2005 pursuing a life long dream to become a pilot, in that time I have flown five different types of helicopters in six different countries. Commercially I have been fortunate enough to work in a number of different environments including flying into Silverstone for the British Grand Prix and pleasure flights over central London. I also became a flight instructor in 2011 and have enjoyed teaching a wide range of people to fly different helicopters. I joined the charity in 2014 fulfilling a goal of joining the Air Ambulance and part of a fantastic team providing a vital service to the South East.
First Officer Graham Robinson
I started my flying career in 2009, having been flying helicopters since 2003. Since then, my career has been a mix of aerial filming and corporate charter. I have also spent some time with the military, although not in a flying capacity. Outside of work, I enjoy sports such as speedflying, mountain biking and squash. Working in HEMS has been a long term ambition of mine, so I am very happy to be involved in this role.
Captain Jon Wade
I joined the Air Ambulance after 16 years service with the Royal Navy. During that time I flew the Sea King and Merlin helicopter in various roles and in many parts of the world. Joining the Air Ambulance, post my time in the RN, was a long held ambition. For me it is an opportunity to work with a team of dedicated professionals in a hugely rewarding job, and in a challenging and exciting flying environment. I also spent much of my childhood in Sussex and many of my close family live within the South East, so I feel very fortunate to be able to return to the area doing such an important role. I am married with two children so that keeps me pretty busy at home, but when free, I like to keep fit by running and enjoy various water sports.