Ambulance stalwart retires after 35 years

11th May 2022

A WELSH Ambulance Service stalwart who is retiring this week will leave a legacy of transformation and improvement across the whole UK ambulance sector. 

Andrew Challenger, the Trust’s Assistant Director of Professional Education and Training, started his career with the ambulance service in 1987.

By 2017, he had been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Ambulance Medal for his contribution. 

Speaking of his early career, Andrew, 57, from Abercrave, Powys, said: “The only way into the ambulance service in the 1980s was to join the Non-Emergency Patient Transport Service, and progress to the emergency service from there.”

Andrew quickly qualified as an Emergency Medical Technician and Paramedic working out of Neath ambulance station during the 1990s, and in 1998 became a Station Supervisor, later qualifying as a Driving and Clinical Instructor in 2001.  

He also led Emergency Response Driver Training for 15 years from 2003, designing bespoke Driver Training Units.

He said: “When I took over driver training, we had three Ford Galaxy people carriers and I was fortunate to receive support to develop driver training units with state-of-the-art technology, a classroom area in the rear and carry emergency response equipment, the third generation of which we will have delivered this month.” 

Whilst leading driver education, Andrew co-wrote the first edition of the current river Education Textbook, and the current driving programme with UK colleagues.

He then introduced accredited programmes for all clinical grades of staff.  

Andrew has been pivotal to the modernisation of ambulance education and has represented the Welsh Ambulance Service  in UK ambulance education forums, both driving and clinical, for the last 19 years.

It was during this time that he co-wrote the Swansea University Paramedic Diploma in 2006/7 which commenced in 2008 and has influenced the transition to Paramedic Degree within the last 18 months. 

Other achievements Andrew has led and delivered in the last five years include developing the Trust’s Transforming Education and Training Strategy, designing and developing three state-of-the-art education and development centres with immersive technology and introducing formal teaching and assessing awards up to diploma level facilitated in WAST.  

In 2017, Andrew was recognised in the Queens New Year’s Honours List receiving the Queens Ambulance Medal, which was presented by the Queen for his distinguished service.

The proud father, stepfather and grandfather said: “This was one of my proudest achievements, sharing the Buckingham Palace investiture ceremony with my partner Ann and my parents. 

“It has been an honour and privilege to work for the Trust, experiencing the best and worst in life.

“I am grateful for the many friends I have made during my career and the fun we shared to get through challenging times.

“I have had a fantastic career and take pride in seeing colleagues progress, I have seen generations of new colleagues enter the profession which is a world apart from the one I joined in 1987.

“I will miss the service, however I look forward with excitement to the next chapter in my life.” 

Dr Catherine Goodwin, Interim Director of Workforce and Organisational Development for the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “Andrew will be hugely missed by so many colleagues and friends.

“He leaves a legacy of transformation and true leadership.

“I am so grateful to Andrew for his continued support and commitment to the Trust and wish him all the best for a long, happy and healthy retirement.”