In the New Year there’s a lot of pressure to create a ‘new you’; a fitter you, a more accomplished you – someone who will shed their winter pounds within weeks and stays calm in traffic. But at Devon Air Ambulance we don’t think you need to create a ‘better’ you to make the most of the fresh year ahead. To us it’s more about embracing the best parts of yourself that are there already.

Here are 7 ways to bring in the New Year while supporting our lifesaving cause.

1. Donate unwanted items

The party’s over and you’ll be finding pine needles in your slippers until March, but these are not the only remnants of the festive season.

Not everyone gets Christmas gifting right and if you’ve received a duplicate gift, multiple pairs of socks, or just something that is not really to your taste, then your surplus or unwanted gifts could have a whole new existence as a donation to one of our charity shops.

One person’s unwanted item is someone else’s perfect purchase, so if you can’t take your item back or swap it, then the money raised from the sale of your item in one of our shops could go towards the £7.5 million we need to raise annually to stay in the air.

Why not have a New Year clear out? A big sort through of books, clothes, kitchen items and other bric-a-brac not only gives you that feeling of renewal, but by donating your items you can really help our bottom line and give you the opportunity to feel generous. If you are a UK tax payer, don’t forget to sign up to gift aid your donated items.

2. Team building

Back at work the less popular chocolates may still be lurking on the kitchen counter, blurred memories of the work do might linger, and those emails it was ok to quietly ignore all that time ago in December are suddenly that much more pressing.

But there are things you can do to give yourself, friends, family and colleagues the encouragement to get involved in the year ahead, without counting down the days until the next holiday.

Our annual Dragon Boat Festival is an excellent team building opportunity and the first date to add to those crisp corporate (or personal) diaries. Each team consists of 16 rowers and 1 drummer and your team will race head to head against other teams throughout the day in heats. The event concludes in an awards ceremony.

As one of the highlights on our calendar we welcome new and existing teams to join us in September to help raise those essential funds that get us to where we are most needed when every second counts. Why not take the opportunity to draw work buddies out of their winter woes? And maybe even burn off some of those Christmas calories in your training... Who knows, it could be the start of an exciting and fun new hobby.

3. Go commando and get fit

If you want to avoid dropping a standing order on gym membership you won’t use beyond January, or splashing out on sports gear you may never wear, then events like the Royal Marines Commando Challenge and the funds they raise truly do make a difference to Devon Air Ambulance patients.

Not only that, but it’s a great opportunity to get really muddy, get fit and have fun, either solo or with a team. Download or send off for a fundraising pack or find out more about what’s involved.

4. Volunteer your skills or time

If you’re after a little more meaning in the year ahead, then volunteering can be an enriching and rewarding experience. Whether you like to work with people or you’re more a behind-the-scenes kind of a person, we always welcome those who want to give something back to the community.

Our 550+ volunteers are the backbone of our charity. The skills, knowledge and experience they bring not only contribute to important work that takes place within the organisation, but they are also wonderful ambassadors for the charity.

Of course, not all our volunteers work in our shops. We also have professional drivers, box collectors, former teachers who deliver talks to schools, expert photographers and 360-degree video makers, as well as numerous other professionals who lend us their time and expertise. There are many different contexts in which to offer your help to Devon Air Ambulance and we are always grateful for the help we get. Discover ways to lend your support, or read our volunteer handbook.

5. Join in for a chance to win

Everyone needs to take a moment to play, so why not Join the Devon Air Ambulance weekly lottery and you could be one of our 13 weekly winners, with a top cash prize of £1,350. In 2019 our in-house lottery raised over £2m in sales. An average 76p in every pound played goes straight into the charity, helping us to get out there to the patients that need us as quickly as possible.

6. Where there’s a will there’s a way to make a difference

Getting your will sorted is one of those tasks on the to-do list that often gets put off. Why not take a weight off your mind and create clarity for loved ones by putting the paperwork in place and crossing it off your list? Residual gifts and monetary gifts can generate millions for the charity, leaving a legacy that made a lasting difference to lives throughout Devon. Find out more about how to do something positive by ensuring our life-saving service remains available to others.

7. Share your story

Share your fundraiser or volunteer story with us! We’d love to hear more about you and what inspired you to make such a positive contribution to Devon’s communities.

Have you ever been airlifted by us? Your stories are important as they help to raise awareness and work towards our vision of achieving 24-hour support. Because of patient confidentiality we only hear from around 15% of those we convey to hospital, so if you or anyone you know has been helped, please do let us know.

Not sure you’re ready for any of the above? You can make a difference today by making a secure donation to Devon Air Ambulance instead, either as a one-off payment or a secure direct debit donation online - and tell your friends about us. Every penny really does make a difference to help save lives.