In 1996, when the service had only been flying for four years, Sarah Burden was airlifted by Devon Air Ambulance following a nasty car accident. She undertook some fundraising to give something back for their help when she had needed them. The following year she secured a job with the Devon Air Ambulance as receptionist.

In 1997 the modest DAA team constituted the CEO, Fundraising Manager, Office Manager, a part-time PR Officer and a contracted Finance Officer. Today, with the shop staff included, (not including paramedics and pilots), there are closer to 100 employees.

Sarah was empowered to grow within her role very early on; moving from Fundraising, PR, to PR and PA to the CEO, to PR Manager, and most recently to Marketing and Communications Manager. 

Now Sarah manages a team of three people including a Digital Content Officer to assist her in the digital side of the marketing, as well as being responsible for communications, business-wide marketing, and literature and branding. 

Such consistent progress could not have been achieved without Sarah's aptitude and the encouragement by senior leadership to help Sarah's skills to flourish.

Sarah achieved her Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) degree while working full time at the Charity. When she took on the marketing role she identified a gap in her skills and was supported in tackling a Marketing degree with the Chartered Institute of Marketing, which she is still currently studying.

We're really fortunate that the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) recognises the importance of investing in the learning and development of its staff. I am extremely grateful for this. I have been at the Charity for 21 years, but every day is a learning day and I would be disappointed if I went home without learning something new, either from my studies or from my fantastic colleagues.

Sarah recently celebrated her long service at the charity at the 2018 Away Day, where she not only received a Long Service Award, but was also highly commended in the Manager of the Year category.

Says Sarah,

Devon Air Ambulance recognises the importance of encouraging employees within their roles, and a knock-on effect is that employees also share this knowledge and learning with colleagues, so that the learning continues to be cascaded.

Sarah is also a member of the Office Management Team (OMT) - a second layer of management that has existed for a year, to help manage the day-to-day work of the Charity.

Are you interested in supporting our helicopters? Find out about our current vacancies, or perhaps you have a little time to donate as a volunteer? We'd love to hear from you.

Sarah is awarded her long service award by

Devon Air Ambulance Patron and BBC Radio Devon Presenter, David Fitzgerald