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When volunteering pays off

Margaret and Jeff Lilley are volunteers in Totnes who have been donating their time to the DAA since Feb 2015. Little did they know that two years later the Devon Air Ambulance would be airlifting their 8-year-old grandson Ryan Lilley to Derriford Hospital following a scooter accident.

Margaret originally started volunteering at our Totnes shop after seeing a poster at the local hospice she worked at and thought it might be a nice way to meet new people. When Jeff retired from his 43 years in road maintenance he joined the volunteer team too. They both agree volunteering was a perfect way for them to meet new people and they love hearing customer stories, especially those who have had direct experience of being airlifted or know of family or friends who required our service. Never in a million years did they think they would be sharing the story of their grandson Ryan.

When Margaret received the call from her daughter-in-law Anna, saying that Ryan had lost his balance whilst scootering downhill causing him to tumble and lose consciousness, she couldn’t believe her ears. When the ambulance crew arrived, Ryan had started to choke and the paramedics called for the Air Ambulance to transport him to hospital as a matter of urgency. Margaret immediately made her way to the family home to comfort Ryan’s five siblings. Ryan’s elder sister Katie was beside herself.

Thankfully after spending a night in hospital Ryan made a full recovery. The family were very happy with the care he received and Ryan and his family were later invited to the airbase to meet the team who attended him. They all had a wonderful day seeing the helicopter and meeting the aircrew.

Ryan’s 16-year-old sister Katie now also volunteers at the shop and continues to do so between her college commitments. It has increased her confidence and will be a considered valuable experience on her CV for future career prospects.

Margaret and Jeff said the incident has changed the way they feel about volunteering and they are incredibly grateful for the night flying operations that are now in place which allowed the aircrew to safely transport Ryan during evening hours.

Margaret, Jeff and Katie now appreciate why their volunteering efforts are so important to DAA. Without our DAA volunteers, we would not have the service we have today. DAA welcomes flexible volunteering and will work alongside your own commitment’s. A couple of hours a week is more than enough help in one of our 17 shops, service our collection boxes or attend our events. If you’re interested in a volunteering opportunity at DAA please contact our volunteer manager Cara Jones at

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