There are lots of reasons why our volunteers choose to support Devon Air Ambulance. A few of our 650+ volunteers have shared their reasons for getting on board with us here. 

Read about why volunteering is so rewarding

Lysianne Cherry - Exmouth

My volunteering relationship with Devon Air Ambulance began back in 2017 when I was trying to get back to work after a long lay off due to surgery -  I couldn't get a job because I hadn't been working for some time. It was suggested, to bring my CV up to date, I needed to have some experience of working with people again and volunteering was put forward as an option.

I thought about the suggestion and decided I would volunteer. For a number of years I had browsed and bought items from the Exmouth Air Ambulance shop and had also donated many times with money and goods so thought I would enquire if there was a need for any volunteers, fortunately there was. This was 2 years and 6 months ago.

The reason I chose to volunteer for the Devon Air Ambulance was, of all the charities around, you know what your hard work is going towards and can see the results of the money you help to generate. I like the opportunity to work with like minded people and get a chance to have a varied role as well as meeting the public. The thank you I receive at the end of the day is a great reward and enthuses you to stay part of the great team.

Even though this adventure started as a means to get back into the workplace I am happy to continue as a volunteer because seeing the results of the Air Ambulance team is reward enough. Meeting the Air Crew at the base was a fantastic reward and generated an even greater bond with the service.

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 volunteered at the shop between her college commitments, which increased her confidence gained her valuable experience for her 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 in place, which allowed the aircrew to safety 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. A couple of hours a week is more than enough help in one of our 19 shops, service our collection boxes or attend our events.

There are many different ways to volunteer for Devon Air Ambulance – from working in our retail shops, to servicing our collection boxes and representing the charity at cheque presentations – but, what you might not realise, is that we also have a dedicated group of volunteer speakers who help raise awareness of the charity across the whole of Devon with their presentations and talks to a variety of local community and school groups. Meeting people in person, telling them about the value of the charity in Devon and of our exciting developments, really does add a personal touch - so let us introduce you to a few of our speakers, past and present.

Norman Maudsley (5 years’ service)

Norman started fundraising for DAA in 2011 when Radio Devon was involved with raising funds for our new helicopter. He initially raised £300 and then continued to raise money for DAA through his favourite pastime, travelling - Norman gives illustrated talks based on his self-funded expeditions around the world to a wide range of groups and organisations around South Devon, and donates his small speaker fee entirely to DAA.

Norman soon became a volunteer speaker for DAA and set about using his experience to promote DAA to organisations, groups and schools in the local area. While proudly wearing his volunteer t-shirt, Norman also attends cheque presentations and receives collections from fundraising events. Currently, with the generosity of Devon people, Norman has collected a staggering £12,000 for DAA and he will continue to offer DAA talks or his travel talks. 


Mike and Vera Saffin (13 years’ service)

Mike and Vera first became involved with DAA when they decided to raise funds for a local charity at their ruby wedding anniversary celebrations. At this special one-off event, surrounded by family and friends, they raised a fantastic £400. When they handed over their kind donation, they were asked if they would like to become DAA volunteers and they readily agreed. With a laptop in hand they began giving talks on behalf of DAA throughout Devon and continue to do so – as well as attending other fundraising events and assisting at Head Office.

Their 13 years' long service has seen many changes at Devon Air Ambulance – when they started in 2004, the focus was on raising awareness of the £2.5 million needed to operate our one leased helicopter, 5 days a week during daylight hours.  Things have changed considerably since then!

Mike has heard some bizarre questions over the years but one which particularly stood out was “Does the pilot wear a parachute?” Mike replied politely “No, he doesn’t - it wouldn’t instil confidence in the rest of the crew!”.

Mike has some words of advice for our new speakers. “You will always be nervous when entering the venue but never forget that the nice people you meet will be eager to hear your story. Be sure to thank the audience before you even begin.”

Richard and Helen Rumbold (17 years’ service)

Richard’s first contact with Devon Air Ambulance was at the Devon County Show in 2000 where the images of the helicopter on the DAA stand caught his eye. After having a long conservation with the then Chief Executive, Lynn Paver, Richard volunteered himself - and his wife Helen - to help.  This was the start of a long association with the charity 

The couple gave many talks in different locations throughout North Devon, from churches to village halls, hotels, nursing homes and community buildings. Richard particularly enjoyed giving his talk to the various Women’s Institutes in North Devon, who have always been great supporters of DAA. Richard found it most enjoyable, as he was often asked to judge the monthly competitions which at times proved to be quite a challenge!

Through volunteering Richard and Helen built a large network of friends who asked them to attend events and cheque presentations on behalf of DAA. We are very proud and grateful that they chose Devon Air Ambulance to offer their valuable time and expertise.

Read about some of the benefits of volunteering

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