We are very fortunate to have the enthusiastic support of a number of local businesses and organisations, which help us to reach the sums needed to keep two emergency aircraft flying.

Burts Potato Chips Ltd is one such business whose staff donate their time and energy in fundraising efforts, and this year is the headline sponsor for the 2019 Dragon Boat Festival.

Paula Howarth, a representative of the company's charity committee, spoke to us about why they have supported Devon Air Ambulance for several years:

Devon Air Ambulance has touched the hearts of many of our employees in some way, so for us it is a fantastic partnership to help raise the funds needed to keep our Air Ambulances flying.

Two uplifting stories

When Paula joined the company, she was particularly pleased that Burts Potato Chips Ltd was one of the charity's Businesses On Board and for good reason.

Paula's grandfather, David Howarth, was a keen walker on Dartmoor, enjoying his lifelong hobby of letter-boxing with his wife Maureen and their dogs.

On the 1st March 2012, David was enjoying a day out at Down Ridge when he fell and broke his leg on the moor. The Air Ambulance was deployed, recovering him from the moor and flying him to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth. That day, David's pilot was Steve Rush and the paramedics were Helen Mackie (now retired) and Adrian Parker.

After a careful recovery, David started to enjoy his walking and letter-boxing once again.

Paula describes how later that year on 19th September, David and Maureen were on Hawkes Tor near Okehampton when David experienced another incident.

Now, anyone would say that one trip in the Air Ambulance is enough for anybody – not Grandad! He wanted to go one better and go for a second trip. Grandad collapsed on the moor and once again he was delivered to Derriford Hospital via the air ambulance for treatment. Not only did he get a second flight, but he had the same Pilot, Steve, and the same paramedic, Helen, attend to him. What are the odds!

Now in their 80s, the couple still venture out on the moors, although they don’t stray too far from the car. Says Paula:

He does mention that he’d like a flight in the new helicopter once it comes into service… we keep telling him NO!

Crunch time!

members of our aircrew tuck into Burts Crisps - one of our supporting corporate brandsBurts Potato Chips Ltd has championed Devon Air Ambulance since 2015 and staff have generously devoted their support through participation in the Plymouth Half Marathon, the Great West Run, donating a football table, recycling telephones, running bake sales and supporting the Lift a Loved One 2018 Christmas Campaign last year.

This year they have thrown its support behind the Dragon Boat Festival in particular as the event's main sponsors, supporting the charity with £1,500 that help to cover the costs of running the event.

The brand will also enter a team to the race for the first time this year, and already the team is preparing to compete against other entrants - some of whom have been involved in the race for several years running. Says Paula:

They are incredibly proud to be supporting this year’s Dragon Boat Race. After members of our employee forum visited the airbases recently, we have an even greater understanding of the incredible work the service does on a daily basis and that has only spurred us on more in our preparations for the festival. Admittedly, preparation is difficult, however that hasn’t deterred our enthusiasm and excitement for taking part and to raise money for such a fantastic cause

A recipe for success

Most participants can't take to the water to practice their paddling techniques but are nevertheless putting their all into fundraising efforts in advance of the festival. Because of the local connection with the Charity, inspiring support in staff is very easy, says Paula.

At Burts Potato Chips Ltd we proudly support local charities, dedicating each year to two specific chosen charities. Our heritage is in the South West. We source the best produce locally and we work with many local flavour partners, so it was just as important to us that our charity support remained in the South West too. 

A big Thanks to all the team for getting on board!

If you would like to support your local community and represent a company that would like to help, there are all sorts of ways to get your business on board. Speak to Fundraising Manager, Tracy Owen on 01392 466666 or find out more below.

Get your business on board

Pictured above in banner: Paula of Burts Potato Chips Ltd with her grandparents. Her grandfather on the right was airlifted twice.