A DOCTOR credited with being the driving force behind bringing an air ambulance service to Wiltshire has died aged 92.

Tributes were paid this week to Dr Richard Riseley-Prichard, who died on October 1 at home in Allington, near Devizes, where he had lived with his wife and family for 61 years.

Richard Youens, president of Wiltshire Air Ambulance charitable trust, said: “Thanks to Dick’s initiative, Wiltshire can be proud of having one of the finest air ambulances in the country: now a standalone operation with a state-of-the-art Bell 429 helicopter fitted out with the latest medical equipment and soon to be operating out of its own purpose-built base at Semington, near Melksham.

“In the almost 30 years of its existence, Wiltshire Air Ambulance has saved thousands of lives.

“For this the people of Wiltshire owe Dick a debt, which can never be repaid.”

He lived a full and active life both in his professional career as a distinguished Royal Air Force doctor and latterly as an active member of the Wiltshire community.

Dr Riseley-Prichard was born on February 19, 1925, in Hereford. He lived there until he was seven, moving to Bristol before spending his teenage years in Torquay.

He was educated at Harrow and Radley College before reading medicine at Trinity College Oxford and finishing his training at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, becoming the fifth generation of doctors in his family.

Called up for National Service in 1951 he trained as a pilot becoming one of a small band of doctors qualified to fly jet aircraft.

He served in a variety of posts at home and overseas, attended the RAF Staff College in 1964 and was in the final withdrawal party from Aden in 1967, flying out on the last aircraft. He commanded the RAF Hospital in Germany from 1973 -1976 and RAF Hospital Wroughton from 1977-1980, when he was promoted to the rank of Air Vice-Marshal and appointed Honorary Surgeon to HM The Queen.

He was Principal Medical Officer of RAF Support Command until his retirement in 1985; he was then appointed Honorary Air Commodore of the County of Wiltshire Royal Auxiliary Air Force Squadron at RAF Lyneham.

In retirement Dick enjoyed an active role in many Wiltshire charities and organisations. He ran the Swindon Hospital scanner appeal in the mid-1980s as well as working as a tax commissioner and a governor of the BUPA Charitable Trust.

Dauntsey’s School also became an important part of Dick’s retired life.

He became chairman of governors in 1986 and played an active role in the school’s development until he retired from this position in 1999.

Outside of his busy professional and retired life, Dick was a keen tennis player, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Frank Riseley, who became Wimbledon doubles champion in 1902 and 1906.

At heart, Dick’s greatest passion was his family. He was married to Alannah for 64 years and together they have four daughters, five grandchildren and five great grandchildren, Allington remains the family home where right up to the end of his life he enjoyed his beautiful garden.