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July 2020

The Prince of Wales Meets Emergency Services Personnel

23 July 2020

The Prince of Wales has met representatives from South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT), Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (DSFRS), and Devon and Cornwall Police.  

His Royal Highness (HRH) visited Exeter Middlemoor Fire Station on Wednesday 22 July to express his support and thanks for the work undertaken by the three services so far in response to Covid-19.

He heard first-hand from various personnel about the pressures on the services, and how they have adapted with dedication and professionalism to meet the challenges.

SWASFT has worked in close partnership with the region’s fire services during the pandemic, with firefighters supporting ambulance crews by driving vehicles and working alongside clinicians to provide care and assistance to patients.

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Jessica Cunningham, Executive Director of Operations at SWASFT, said: “We are delighted that HRH has been able to hear first-hand about the invaluable amazing contribution of our fire service partners across the region in our response to Covid-19.

“We were able to stand this project up extremely quickly, which was really important because nobody knew in March exactly what the impact of Covid-19 would be on the population of the South West.

“We are extremely grateful for the level of collaboration with all the region’s fire services, which has truly benefitted our service to patients.

“We are discussing with the fire chiefs how we will continue to work together, as this partnership has been a really positive experience for both services.” 

In March SWASFT formally requested the five South West fire and rescue services to provide ambulance drivers as part of its Covid-19 response.

SWASFT invested in a fleet of 15 additional ambulances, which would be driven by volunteer firefighters across the South West 24/7.

Initially they attended lower priority calls with Emergency Care Assistants (ECAs), but since the end of June have worked alongside paramedics to respond to all categories of emergency.

So far the volunteers have attended a total of more than 4,500 incidents.

Derek McCullough, an officer with SWASFT who has co-ordinated the partnership, said: “The volunteers are genuinely saving lives. There have been cases where they have assisted with CPR and have revived various people. They have also been involved in challenging hospital transfers in the South West and beyond for patients with severe burns and life-threatening brain injuries. One crew also helped to deliver a baby girl called Elsie.”

Mark Evans, an on-call firefighter, is leaving his job as a supermarket manager to join SWASFT as an ECA after helping to deliver baby Elsie.

He said: “When I was at school I wanted to be either a footballer or a paramedic. I’ve really enjoyed partnering with SWAST during the pandemic, and everyone has made me feel part of the team. I’m starting-off as an ECA and eventually aim to become a paramedic.”

HRH also met Newly Qualified Paramedic Conor Calby, Paramedic Kye Brooks, and Rob Partridge, on-call fire crew manager and volunteer ambulance driver.


  1. The group photo shows (left to right): Conor Calby, Newly Qualified Paramedic; Kye Brooks, Paramedic; Mark Evans, on-call firefighter who will join SWASFT on Monday 27 July an Emergency Care Assistant; Rob Partridge, on-call fire crew manager and volunteer ambulance driver; Jessica Cunningham, Executive Director of Operations at SWASFT; Derek McCullough, an officer with SWASFT who has been the overall co-ordinator for the scheme.

The Duchess of Cornwall Meets Frontline Ambulance Crews

06 July 2020

Today, Monday 6 July 2020, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall visited Swindon Fire Station to meet representatives from the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT), Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) and Great Western Hospital, Swindon.

Her Royal Highness wished to express her support and thanks for the work undertaken by these key services, and for the people who have worked tirelessly throughout the coronavirus pandemic to help and care for those in the local community. She also heard first hand of the ways emergency services colleagues have had to adapt services throughout the pandemic.

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The South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust and Fire and Rescue Service have worked in close partnership throughout the pandemic. With Fire Fighters supporting ambulance crews, driving ambulances and working alongside clinicians in providing much needed assistance to patients. 

Steph Bond, SWASFT Operations Officer, is responsible for managing the Swindon Paramedics and Emergency Care Assistants, also acting as incident commander in serious incidents. Steph said: "The Duchess was very interested to hear how we have coped during the pandemic and extremely understanding of the pressures we have all faced whilst caring for people in the most difficult circumstances." 

Alongside Steph Bond, both Charlotte Goldsmith, a Lead Paramedic who drives Rapid Response Vehicles and Karolina Butlanska, Emergency Care Assistant, met The Duchess of Cornwall.

Will Warrender, Chief Executive of SWASFT, said: "I am extremely proud of the work carried out by my South Western Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust colleagues through these challenging times and I am delighted HRH The Duchess of Cornwall has been able to see and hear first-hand the dedication and professionalism of our staff.  Our clinical hubs responding to the thousands of 999 calls, those in the many support and corporate functions, colleagues in ambulances and clinicians, who together make this the great service it is."

South Western Ambulance Service Trust Welcomes new CEO Will Warrender

01 July 2020

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is pleased to welcome incoming Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Will Warrender CBE. Will succeeds Ken Wenman, who retires, after more than 40 years’ service in the NHS.

“We are very excited that Will is joining us, bringing a wealth of leadership experience in complex and challenging environments,” said Chairman Tony Fox.  

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With over 30 years’ Royal Navy experience, Will has spent much of his time at sea, where he commanded five warships; and ashore he led national and coalition maritime operations across 2.5 million square miles of water, in the Gulf.. In 2018 he was made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the military Operational Honours List and was awarded the US Legion of Merit in 2017 for his contribution to coalition maritime operations in the Gulf.

“His personal values are a great alignment with those of the Trust and we know that he will be an inclusive and compassionate leader, able to take us forward as we continue our drive to be an outstanding organisation in all that we do.

“Finally, I would like to say thank you and to recognise the commitment and contribution Ken Wenman has made to SWASFT and to the Ambulance sector as a whole throughout his career. Ken has driven innovation into the sector and has been instrumental in the development of paramedic clinical practices. He was also at the forefront of successful mergers that shaped the Regional Service we have today. We wish him all the very best in his well-earned retirement,” said Mr Fox.

Outgoing-CEO Ken Wenman said: “It has been my privilege to serve the people and south west communities as SWASFT CEO. We have a team of fantastic people and a firm foundation of patient-centred service on which to grow, under the next chapter of leadership. Choosing the right time to retire has not been an easy decision; however SWASFT is in a good position and I am confident that the Board, led by Tony Fox and new CEO Will Warrender will seize the many opportunities that lie ahead.”

CEO Will Warrender said: “I am truly honoured to join the Trust at this highly unusual time -- mid-global pandemic. Over the past few months, I have been inspired by the courage, dedication and continued commitment to patient and staff care.

“I am reassured that my transition into the role will be supported by a caring Board, a strong Executive team and passionate people, where together we will maintain service continuity as the south west region manages and mitigates the impacts of Covid-19.

“My commitment as CEO is to compassionately lead a Trust that treats its people with respect, care, dignity and a culture that promotes transparency, inclusion, honesty, engagement, fairness, diversity and challenge.

“Together with our people and through patient and community feedback, I will be taking us on a  journey to achieve our 2025 and 2030 goals to deliver a world-class service, by making sure we are operationally fit-for-the-future and able to cope with increased demands of activity,” said Mr Warrender.

From July, Will sets out to safely meet as many of our 4500-strong workforce and 800 volunteers as possible, from across our region. This will be achieved through carefully organised meetings using social distancing measures, personal protective equipment and virtual forums.


Note to editors

A press briefing, led by CEO Will Warrender will be managed by the SWASFT media team in late-August. More information will be provided at a later date.

Will Warrender biography

Mr Will Warrender served 32 years in the Royal Navy and completed his career as a Rear Admiral responsible for recruiting and training Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel.  Spending the majority of his earlier career at sea he was fortunate to command five warships. On shore, his command followed with responsibility for the conduct of national and coalition operations across 2.5 million square miles of water in the Gulf.

He was subsequently appointed as a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in the 2018 Operational Honours List and granted the US Legion of Merit for his contribution to coalition maritime operations. He served twice in the Ministry of Defence HQ where he led military support to UK resilience and counter terrorism operations across government agencies and private organisations.

In his current capacity, Mr Warrender is the Chief Executive of the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT). In this role he is able to draw upon his considerable operational experience within a cross-cultural and multi-disciplined environment and deliver under challenging environments, while meeting the increased demands of activity.

Under his leadership, and with the support of the Board, Mr Warrender is responsible for the 5500-strong workforce, delivering emergency and urgent patient care across 10,000 square miles of mainland England, spanning eight counties Cornwall & Isles of Scilly; Devon; Somerset; Dorset; Bristol; Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. He is responsible for SWASFT operational assets comprising 120 sites, 96 ambulance stations, six air bases and five emergency operation centres. 

Mr Warrender has an inclusive and compassionate style of leadership. He is passionate about building strong, resourceful teams and inspires others to achieve their best. He is a champion of diversity and under his leadership he will continue to lead in providing fair opportunities for all.

Mr Warrender was born in India and holds a Bachelor’s Degree (1992) and a Master’s Degree (2004) from King’s College, London. He is also a member of the Royal College of Defence Studies (2017). His family home is in South Devon where his interests include sport (hockey, running, triathlon) and walking the two family dogs. 

Career history

July 2020 – CEO South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust

2018-2020 – Rear Admiral Flag Officer Sea Training, Royal Navy

2015-2018 – UK Maritime Component Commander (Bahrain)

2013-2015 – Assistant Head of UK Military, Ministry of Defence

2011-2013 – Commanding Officer, HMS Dauntless, Royal Navy

2009-2009 – Commanding Officer, HMS Montrose, Royal Navy

2004-2006 – Commanding Officer, HMS Argyll, Royal Navy

1998-1999 – Commanding Officer, HMS Cattistock, Royal Navy

1997-1998 – Commanding Officer, HMS Chiddingfold, Royal Navy

1988 – Joined Royal Navy

South Western Ambulance Charity logo

South Western Ambulance Charity

The South Western Ambulance Charity, founded in 1995, uses gifted monies to benefit those in our communities who use our service and to improve the welfare of the staff and volunteers of the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. 

Our charitable support covers Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire including Bristol and Swindon.

If you would like to show your appreciation for the care that you or your loved one has received from us in the form of a charitable donation please visit our online giving website: Donate to South Western Ambulance Charity | Give as you Live Donate