Volunteer Matthew Lake has generously donated his time to support us in our shops. Here's a little bit about his time in our Furniture & and Electrical shop in Exeter.

"Demand for sofa beds peaks in early December, when people realise they haven't got anywhere for guests who give the Baileys a good bashing to kip. Little facts like this are just one of the things I've learnt while volunteering for the Devon Air Ambulance Furniture and Electrical shop.

I've also learned: there's more chance of a US president appearing in Strictly Come Dancing than there is of bread makers making a comeback; the good people of Devon have an appetite for pine wardrobes; after years in the doldrums, sideboards are back in; washing up liquid is invaluable when it comes to shifting washing machines, and the heaviest substance known to man is not osmium - it's the substance they use to stuff high-end king-sized mattresses.

My main role is as driver's mate, which involves helping the full-time driver, Paul, to deliver and collect furniture.

Paul's an absolute genius when it comes to the art of shifting furniture. Faced with the prospect of carrying a wardrobe up two flights of stairs my initial reaction is akin to a rabbit caught in headlights. Not Paul. He knows instinctively whether or not we need to take the wardrobe's doors off and which way it'll need to face to get round the corner.

Moving furniture safely is all about working out the angles, and Paul is so good at this I'm amazed he never became a professional snooker player.

When we get back to the store all the donations are given a unique item number and are either put away in the warehouse or they go straight onto the shop floor.

A decent divan bed with matching mattress, or a nice leather L-shaped sofa, or a rise and recline electric armchair that's hardly ever been used will always be fast-tracked to the showroom because they're usually sold within a couple of days, especially after word gets out on Facebook.

When I'm not on the van, I'm usually helping out on the shop floor, taking sold items to the loading bay and putting new stock on display.

A lot of time and thought goes into how we present our wares to the public. Rather than just sticking sofas in one corner, sideboards in another and armchairs along a wall, we aim to group together items that really complement each other, both in terms of their function, style and colour. With donated furniture arriving back at the store four days a week, the showroom is constantly being updated with new stock to replace what's been sold. And, despite all the competition in the market from other charities, not to mention the impact from a certain new rival in Exeter that likes to lure customers with meatballs, sales are stronger than ever, with the shop regularly exceeding its weekly target.

I've been volunteering for the Devon Air Ambulance Trust's Furniture and Electrical store for well over a year now, and I can honestly say it's been one of the best moves I've ever made. I've met some wonderful people, seen some fascinating properties and I get to be driven around the most beautiful county in the country.

I've also lost about half a stone, mainly through lugging insanely heavy mattresses - there's always an upside. Oh, and if you're wondering about the washing up liquid, well, it's brilliant for sliding out washing machines from under kitchen counters. Just squeeze a little onto the floor directly in front of the machine's feet and it'll glide out."

Would you like to help support Devon Air Ambulance as a volunteer? We'd love to hear from you. Find out more about our volunteer roles