This article was written in 2018 and contains references to Wills Month that year. For the latest news and updates please visit our news pages

Often our legacy donations arrive quite unexpectedly, sometimes as many as several years after our donor has passed away. Often the first we hear of our donor is when we receive a cheque in the post. Unless we are told, it's impossible for us to know whether individuals have planned to remember us in their will and to thank them for the lifeline they have left to others in advance.

But the story of a legacy donation often begins a lot earlier than the cheque's arrival.

Hazel Parkhouse's involvement with Devon Air Ambulance began a number of years ago, when her experience with the charity helped her to decide to make a significant contribution in her future, and towards the future of our patients. 

A supporter's first experience with us isn't always as a patient

For many people, the first time they will have heard of Devon Air Ambulance is when they've either needed the  service themselves, or someone close to them has been helped by us.

For Hazel, her first contact with the charity was when her daughter, Sarah Burden, was involved in a car accident and had to be airlifted to hospital. 

Sarah was airlifted to RD&E Wonford in just four minutes. She was off work for six months and three years after that she still had five fractures that took about five years in total to fully knit back together.

Once Sarah had recovered from her injuries, she and her sister decided to do a sponsored swim. They presented the money to the crew and met Graham Deasy, the then CEO.

In 1997, Sarah started working for the charity as part of a team of four, answering the phone, greeting guests and initially writing Thank You letters to supporters. As the charity grew she moved into various roles, finding her places as PR  in 1999 and is now Marketing and Communications Manager.

Her close involvement with the charity inspired growing support to those close to Sarah, not least her mum who attended the fifth anniversary party, volunteering for the first time. Since then, she has volunteered in the office, handling some of the administrative duties until she had to withdraw to assist her husband post-hip replacement.

Creative ways to help

Hazel and her husband, Ron, Sarah's dad, sponsored a CD called Heaven Sent, which was produced and sung by local comedian, Tank Sherman, and singer/songwriter, Billy Curtis, which raised a good amount of money. She has also donated on various occasions, and regularly donates pre-loved items to the charity shops, which she continues to do.

She also looks after three charity boxes, being sure to check on them and change them when they are full. There are collection boxes all across Devon, so the charity depends upon volunteers everywhere to help manage them.

A gift to the future

Hazel and Ron have also left a gift to Devon Air Ambulance in their will. By leaving a legacy they know that they are helping to ensure other families receive the support of a service that has helped their own family all those years ago in the early days of the charity.

Hazel says:

I never knew Devon had an Air Ambulance until Sarah needed it. Since then I have done what I can to support the charity. When we were re-doing our Wills we knew we wanted to acknowledge the support Devon Air Ambulance gave Sarah and us as a family when we needed them, so we decided to leave a percentage of our estate to Devon Air Ambulance. You never think you will need a service like this - either for yourself or a loved one - but it’s so reassuring to know that if you do need it, it is there for everyone.

For Hazel it's a way to say thank you and a positive commitment to the cause that will continue to affect others once she has gone.

Leave your own legacy

Have you made a will yet? It's never too early to plan ahead and support the charity of your choice.

Leaving a lasting legacy is like leaving a lifeline to others in your will. Find out more about how to get the support you need to plan for the future of others.

Find out more about supporting Devon Air Ambulance in your Will.

The above picture features Hazel (left) posing with our mascot, Ambrose Bear, and Retail Operations Manager, Chrissie Peel (right).