A retired Huddersfield businessman is to step down after 17 years as chairman of Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Huddersfield-born Peter Sunderland joined YAA in 2004 as a trustee becoming chairman two years later. He received an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours in 2016 for voluntary service to the charity and the community in West Yorkshire.

Mr Sunderland, who lives in Kirkburton, will officially retire as chairman and trustee at the end of June.

He joined the YAA in 2004 after retiring from his role at the RMC Group PLC, where he worked for over 27 years as one of their UK directors, bringing with him a wealth of business experience. He became chairman in 2006 and has since led the transformation of the charity.

Mr Sunderland said: “I have been a trustee of Yorkshire Air Ambulance for 19 years now and chairman for 17 of those years, however, I feel now is the right time to step down from my role with the charity.

Peter Sunderland

“When I first joined the YAA in 2004 it was a very different organisation from the one that it is today. We had one leased Bolkow helicopter that operated from a portable building at Leeds Bradford Airport.

“The administration was carried out from a small office in Dean Clough Mills in Halifax. Income from donations was very small and hardly covered our costs.

“That’s a different situation from the very robust and stable position that the charity finds itself in today, and I am so very proud of how the YAA has evolved over the years. It has truly been a team effort.”

Mr Sunderland has led on the implementation of many important milestones over the years including purchasing helicopters, developing the two air bases at Nostell and Topcliffe, and gaining the charity’s own Air Operators Certificate – the first of its kind at the time.

Abby Barmby, director of marketing and communications, said: “Peter has truly been the pillar of YAA for nearly 20 years now and will be greatly missed by us all. His caring yet professional leadership, combined with extensive business experience, proved invaluable in driving a clear vision, purpose and strategy for the charity.

“He really has made YAA the respected organisation it is, not just as our chairman but as a true ambassador too – a legacy we will all carry forward.

“On behalf of everyone at YAA we’d like to express our heartfelt thanks to both Peter and his wife Margaret who has been a wonderful support to him over the years.”

When Mr Sunderland stands down current vice-chairman Mike Harrop will take over as chairman.

Mr Harrop brings a wealth of experience from his 30-year career in the RAF including being the Station Commander at RAF Scampton, the home of the Red Arrows.

He also has an extensive and in-depth knowledge of YAA after initially joining as a volunteer back in 2017, before joining the board in 2019, and taking on the role of vice-chairman in 2022.

Mr Sunderland was appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire and is a past president and subscribers’ secretary of Huddersfield Choral Society.