Published: 1 June 2023

Wales Air Ambulance is saying a big ‘thank you’ to its volunteers for the vital contribution they make to the work of the lifesaving charity.

The praise comes as the Charity celebrates National Volunteers’ Week, which runs from Thursday 1 June to Thursday 8 June.

Now in its 39th year, it recognises thousands of volunteers across the UK who give up their own time to help out charities and organisations.

Wales Air Ambulance relies on its volunteers in a number of ways and their support helps to ensure the service is able to operate 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week, 365 days-a-year, providing critical care to some of the most seriously ill and injured people throughout Wales.

Sandra Hembery, Volunteer Development Manager at Wales Air Ambulance, said: “Our volunteers are very important to us. They are ambassadors for the Charity, giving us their time in a variety of ways to raise both awareness and funds for our critical lifesaving work.

“We appreciate our small but incredibly dedicated band of volunteers throughout the year, but National Volunteers’ Week presents an excellent opportunity to tell our Charity heroes that they’re amazing human beings who have a special place in our hearts.”

There are many different volunteering roles within the Wales Air Ambulance and each offers something in return.

Graham Hirst is a stalwart of volunteering at Wales Air Ambulance.  Notching up 15 years of volunteering, Graham is a well-known face at the Charity’s Dafen headquarters in Llanelli.

A lot has changed since Graham first turned his hand to volunteering. But what hasn’t changed is his total dedication to the cause. He can always be relied upon to help where he can. His tasks include various talks to groups, sorting cash boxes and regularly helping with campaigns.

Graham, of Treboeth, Swansea, decided to volunteer after taking early retirement.

He said: “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.”

Volunteers also give up their time by working in the Wales Air Ambulance shops. Gillian Naylor has been helping out at the Charity’s Caernarfon shop since February 2022.

She has always made blankets, but she has recently created bobble and beanie hats for the shop and has even repaired and decorated a cracked vase with a crocheted sunflower.

For Gillian, volunteering is a useful outlet for her creativity, but it is also a chance for her to help what she sees as a very good cause.

She said: “I love speaking to people – people that come into the shop who need advice and want to buy something. A lot of people come in for a chat.”

The role of charity Trustee is also a voluntary position. Chair of Trustees, Dave Gilbert, said: “It’s true to say your time is one of the greatest gifts you can give to someone. The passion and dedication demonstrated by our volunteers are some of the significant reasons that Wales Air Ambulance has been able to attend over 45,000 missions in the past 22 years. For that, I cannot thank them enough.

“I am proud to be a volunteer for this incredible charity and I know that my fellow Trustees feel the same way.”

The Wales Air Ambulance needs to raise £8 million every year to keep its lifesaving service operational.

Sandra added: “Volunteering is an excellent opportunity to make friends, gain new skills and experience, and looks great on your CV. It can have positive impacts on your own well-being, as well as having beneficial effects on others. 

“Previous experience is not required and you can  choose the hours you volunteer. If you're aged over 18 years old, are enthusiastic, and have a willingness to support the Charity, we would love to have you on board.

“By volunteering for us, you will help raise the profile of Wales Air Ambulance, help others in the community, and help the Charity continue its lifesaving work across Wales.”   

If you’d like to know more contact Sandra and Rhian in the volunteering team on [email protected]