To share the love this Valentine’s Day, we’re celebrating Joan and Alan, married volunteers who have been with Thames Valley Air Ambulance for almost 20 years. Joan was our first ever volunteer, and Alan joined the ranks soon afterwards. Here’s their story:
“It all started nearly 20 years ago, when Alan came home and said he’d seen a small advert in the local paper asking for a volunteer to help the Fundraising Manager at Thames Valley Air Ambulance at their offices in Wokingham. I got in touch with them and started the very next week!
I loved it right from the start and did general work around the office for the first few months. After that, I took on my own project administering the raising of money when people died and bequests were made to the charity instead of flowers. The project grew quickly and I ended up doing it for eight years, raising thousands of pounds.
During this time we had a very strong Fetes and Fairs team developing, and this is where Alan and I started working together”
“I don’t remember exactly how I ended up joining Joan as a volunteer – it just sort of happened! We attended a huge number and range of events together, including the Wokingham May and Winter Carnivals, which attracted crowds of between 8,000 and 10,000 people. The first time, we just had a table and two model helicopters, but it wasn’t long before we had our own stall.
A standout moment for us was when a new helicopter was delivered to Marlow in 2008. Our target had been a million pounds, and many of us had a lump in our throats seeing it all pay off after years of fundraising!”
Another unforgettable moment was in 2015 when Alan and I, alongside four other volunteers, were invited to meet HRH the Countess of Wessex, when she officially opened our new facility at RAF Benson. She was a lovely person and very interested in what we did. It was a real privilege as we’d never expected to be involved in anything like this! We were delighted when the Countess became our patron last month.
“One of the best things about volunteering is the social aspect. Joan and I have made many friends through volunteering, and together we’ve raised lots of money. We still get together with the other ‘originals’ when we can.
We’re very proud to work for Thames Valley Air Ambulance as we love doing such a worthwhile job. The work that the crew do is so valuable because we can treat the patient on the roadside and we have highly trained doctor/paramedic teams. Over the years we’ve seen how the work we do has advanced to the point where now our crew are able to perform advanced medical procedures at the incident. It’s been great to be on this journey.”
“Alan and I have been married for almost 55 years. This year, the message I wrote in Alan’s Valentine’s Day card was ‘You’ve been my Valentine for 57 years and you still are!’.
For our Ruby and Golden wedding anniversaries we asked for donations to Thames Valley Air Ambulance in lieu of presents and raised a total of £650.
We love to spend time together and volunteering means we can do this whilst doing something worthwhile. We see it as a day out together! It helps us to keep our lives busy and active throughout our retirement. Our children and grandchildren love to hear about our volunteering, and we love to share the stories with them.”
Thank you to Joan and Alan for sharing their amazing story of volunteering with us.