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North West Air Ambulance Charity recognises longest-serving volunteers

As Volunteers’ Week celebrations continue across the country, the North West Air Ambulance Charity (NWAA) is recognising the dedication of its longest-serving volunteers, Anne and Peter Burrow. The charity is appealing for more people to join as volunteers, as it celebrates the dedication of its existing volunteering team.

In February 2000, Anne and Peter’s son Edward (affectionately known to family and friends as Teddy) was involved in an explosion at an agricultural engineering workshop, where he worked as a welder. He was airlifted from the scene to Royal Preston Hospital by NWAA medics, passing away a fortnight later. Following this devastating accident, Anne, 74, and Peter, 80, now based in Holme, Carnforth, began volunteering with the charity that year. They have now reached a milestone 20 years with the charity, which recently celebrated its 21st birthday.

Anne shared the couple’s motivation for giving back to the charity that was there for their son in his time of need: “Peter and I know first-hand how important this charity is, and we remain very grateful to the air ambulance for quickly reaching Teddy and airlifting him to a centre of excellence. It gave him a fighting chance, which might not have been the case without the air ambulance’s response. This is a lifesaving service in the North West, especially in rural areas, with the crew able to provide the speed and expertise necessary to give other patients the best possible chance at survival.”

Operating 365 days a year, the charity’s Helicopter Emergency Medical Service crew rapidly bring the hospital to the patient, responding to some of the most urgent incidents across the region. The service does not receive government funding, depending on the public generosity fund its lifesaving missions.

Since 2000, the couple have undertaken various volunteering roles, from cheque presentations to bucket collections, and working instore at NWAA’s Kendal charity shop.

One especially valuable way of giving back has been through talks and presentations to potential supporters, where Anne and Peter share theirs and Edward’s story: “We’re sharing our relationship to the charity to inspire others to get involved and do whatever they can for a very worthwhile cause, whether that’s fundraising or becoming a volunteer themselves. Our story often leaves a lasting impression on people, and though it can be difficult to share, it’s important to show just how invaluable our local air ambulance charity is.

“Over the years we have both, directly and indirectly, helped to raise over £500,000. It gives us an enormous sense of pride that we’ve not only contributed in our own way, but that we’ve also encouraged others to start volunteering or fundraising, helping many more patients.”

Having farmed at Cowan Bridge, Kirkby Lonsdale, for 45 years, Anne and Peter have encouraged many in their community to support NWAA, even getting six family and friends to join as volunteers at the charity’s Kirkby Lonsdale store when it opened in 2012.

“People in our community are so generous, and it’s the people who jump on board wholeheartedly who have kept the charity going for 21 years. In some way, we feel like small cogs in a bigger wheel, but through the efforts of our fellow volunteers, who are such fantastic people, we’re able to help the charity grow so marvellously.”

“Whilst our story doesn’t begin as a happy one, we find comfort in giving back to the people who helped our son. Volunteering gives us a great deal of purpose and satisfaction, and we’ve met some truly wonderful people over the years, who all find enjoyment and reason through volunteering.”

Helen Doward, NWAA’s Head of Volunteering, thanked Anne and Peter for their years of support: “The impact that Anne and Peter have had on our charity is immeasurable. Through 20 years of volunteering, raising awareness and encouraging others to get involved with our work, they will have helped countless patients across the North West.

“Volunteers play a really essential role in keeping our service operating. On behalf of the charity, I want to thank every single one of our wonderful volunteering team this Vounteers’ Week. The effect they have had on thousands of lives across the North West cannot be underestimated. It’s through their efforts that our charity can be there for so many more patients in the years to come.”

Though the pandemic temporarily postponed volunteering activities, the charity has kept in touch with its team and launched a telephone and virtual pen pal scheme – ‘NWAA Buddies’ – to keep volunteers connected with one another at this time.

NWAA is looking to gradually and safely reopen retail stores in the coming weeks and is looking for new enthusiastic individuals to join as volunteers. The charity has 14 stores across the North West, including Kirkby Lonsdale, Kendal and Garstang. You can contact Helen and her team at volunteer@nwaa.net call 0800 5874570 or visit nwaa.net/fundraising/volunteer for further information.

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