Graham Hirst is a stalwart of volunteering at Wales Air Ambulance.

Notching up 15 years of volunteering this month (January), Graham is a well-known face at our Dafen headquarters.

In his trademark Cowboy-style hats, he always has a smile, a wave and a “hello” for everyone he meets.

But it was early retirement at 54 that first sparked Graham, of Treboeth, to join our volunteering team.

Seeking a new challenge, Graham spotted an advert in the Evening Post for volunteers.

He started at our then warehouse in Llansamlet and also helped to fit out our first shop in Cwmdu.

A lot has changed since Graham first turned his hand to volunteering. At the time, at our base in Fairwood, Swansea, there were just two portable buildings and one helicopter.

What hasn’t changed is Graham’s total dedication to the cause. He can always be relied upon to help where he can, and now does various talks to groups, sorts cash boxes and regularly helps out with campaigns among his many tasks.

He has advice for anyone considering volunteering: “Come and join us and see if you like it.

“I work with a great bunch of people. They’re very dedicated. I feel - when I see that helicopter go up - that’s lovely! We are part of that. People’s lives are being saved because of our volunteers.”

Volunteering is not just a one-way street. Graham sadly lost his wife of 55 years three years ago, and volunteering helped him through this difficult period.

His gift of time to the charity keeps him occupied and gets him out of the house.

But we at Wales Air Ambulance believe we gain so much more from Graham’s volunteering. He is simply irreplaceable.