David Stockton, 49, brings three decades of experience in the healthcare and retail sectors to his position as Chief Executive of Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS), which has a base at Langwathby, near Penrith. In his role, he splits his time between the service’s headquarters at Eaglescliffe on Teesside and its Cumbrian site.

I was born in Gateshead and I and my family always have lived in the North although I have travelled extensively during my career – Guernsey, Ireland and throughout the UK.

A strong work ethic is something I have possessed from an early age. While a teenager I had a paper round and then a weekend job at the shoe shop Dolcis – where I always was aiming to be the top salesperson on a Saturday.

After A-levels, I joined a management training scheme with Morrisons supermarket before changing direction to learn to be a dispensing optician.

During my time in the eyecare, audiology and retail sectors, I have been employed by leading brands including Dollond and Aitchison, Boots and Specsavers, been in management roles, ran my own business for more than 18 years and worked at director board level.

When I heard that GNAAS was looking for a new chief executive I was keen to apply as I was conscious of the lifesaving work it does across Cumbria and the North East.

A favourite hobby of mine is walking in the stunning, but remote, countryside of the Lake District and Northumberland. This added to my awareness of how vital it is to have an air ambulance service.

It can get to people, in acute medical need, who are in places that other forms of transport would take a long – and life-threatening - amount of time to reach. While I have never needed to call upon its services, it is extremely reassuring to know it’s there.

I have been passionate about whatever I have done, but it is a different level of passion when it comes to GNAAS, which has such a massive impact on the region and its residents.

Since becoming CEO, I can get quite emotional about work, particularly when I hear about our teams – travelling in two helicopters and rapid response vehicles - providing pre-hospital care to and rescuing hundreds of badly injured or sick people every year.

It costs £6.7 million a year to keep the service running. Many people mistakenly think it is funded by the NHS – but it relies totally on donations.

Throughout my career, my philosophy has been that you should listen to your elders. You may want to change and innovate, but they have vast experience which is useful to know. Taking a risk is all right if you do your research first.

To succeed in business, I believe you should never be afraid to try something new – which is what I have done by moving into the charity sector.

The skills and knowhow I have developed in my 30 years in business are as equally relevant whether working in a commercial or charity environment.

In my spare time, I like to spend time as much time as I can with my wife, two daughters and son.

Being CEO at GNAAS enables me to do that as well as being an interesting, fulfilling role in an organisation that makes a huge difference to people’s lives.