News / Events Blog The Gift of Time We have an amazing team of volunteers who work incredibly hard on our behalf. So why do these wonderful people donate the gift of time? We asked a few to tell us about themselves and the roles they play in support of the Charity. Des Curtis Des Curtis flew as a navigator on a Coastal Command fighter in WWII. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in May 1944 and made a Chevalier of the Order of the Légion d’Honneur in 2018. Des has always enjoyed donating his time to good causes. Over the years he has written a book, A Most Secret Squadron, become Secretary, Treasurer, Chairman and President of numerous associations and clubs and has raised a huge amount of money for special projects. “In September 2017, Leanne Colverson gave a presentation to Bournemouth Probus Club. I had the good fortune to be seated next to her at the lunch table and I asked her if Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance could use the help of a 94-year-old car driver with the capability of giving talks. I was soon signed up as a volunteer and my role is to give presentations and receive donations from groups of supporters. One may ask why a man of that age would be offering his services. The answer is simply that this is a most worthy cause. Being recently widowed again, I had no reason to sit at home waiting to depart this earth. In my opinion, retirees who volunteer are generally much happier, simply because they know that however large or small their own effort, they have played a part in helping others. Air ambulances nationwide are held in the highest regard and I feel proud to be able to play my part and be part of the team.” Sue Woollam “I was born in Ireland and left as a teenager to train as a Nurse in England. I started my working life in Norwich and moved to London, working for years in A&E, becoming a Senior Sister in Barnet and finally a Nurse Practitioner in a walk-in centre. I retired in 2011 and moved to the beautiful county of Dorset in 2014,which I love. In order to meet people and learn about my new home, I decided to join different groups, for example I joined the local bowls club with whom I play regularly. I also joined a choir and started volunteering for the British Red Cross and the National Coastwatch Institution at Hengistbury Head. “I saw that Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance were looking for volunteers, so I went along to find out what it was all about and signed up straight away. I really enjoy attending events such as summer shows, hospital open days and our C2C event. Most of these take place in incredible locations, which means not only do I have a great experience, but I also get to see new places. As volunteers, we are also very lucky to attend days at the airbase, where we get to see the Critical Care Team doing what they do best, learning about their work and seeing ‘Peggy’ flying in and out. It’s an absolute privilege to be part of such a great team!” Peter Burt “I sometimes get asked why I became a Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance volunteer and my answer is always the same. It’s mainly because I know what it is like to suddenly be in a situation where you need urgent medical attention. As a result of a road traffic collision many years ago, I found myself trapped by the legs and bleeding quite heavily. It justso happened that on that particular day, an emergency ambulance was not available. The next thing I remember was a local GP sitting behind me in the car; he put a line in my arm and set up a drip. I have subsequently been told that, without that initial help, the outcome could have been so very different. “After I retired and had a replacement knee joint, I found myself with a lot of spare time and began to look at various charities who might need some help. It was while watching the local news about a road traffic collision and the involvement of the air ambulance that I knew straight away to which charity I would offer my time. “Right from the start, at the initial interview stage, I was aware of how much the Charity supported its volunteers. I started to begin servicing a small number of collection boxes in the Yeovil area. Since then, the number has increased to around 60. I then began to attend cheque presentations to accept donations raised by clubs, organisations and businesses. This did take me a little out of my comfort zone at first, but I seem to have the hang of it now! Next came being part of a team to attend events with a merchandise stand and in doing this, I have met many great fellow volunteers. “Occasionally, I get the privilege of visiting the airbase to get an insight into what goes on and meet some of the Clinical Team, which is terrific. Becoming a volunteer for the Charity was certainly a very good decision for me!” Anita Townsend “I first had contact with the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance when it landed in a field near my house to attend to my husband one Friday afternoon. He was already very disabled from a stroke and was feeling really unwell. Following a 999 call, I very soon had the Helimed Team arriving. I am sure the treatment they gave him on that day extended his life. “The next contact I had was when I saw a presentation at a Stroke Club in Wells. It sowed the seed of volunteering in my mind and I resolved to offer my services when I was free to do so. I was one of the first volunteers that Debbie Birtwisle inducted following my contact with the office. “Volunteering gives me an opportunity to pay back for the care my husband received from all areas of the NHS. I have made new friends and discovered new skills along the way. I have attended a wide range of events and at one point I was servicing 80 collection boxes, filling in for others when they were unable to help. This really helped me build new contacts for the Charity in and around my area. I also go to cheque presentations and deliver presentations to groups. This is probably the new skill I am most proud of, as my self-confidence has improved so much. “I would recommend volunteering to everyone who has the time. You get back more than you give and I am proud to represent such a well-run, important charity.” Could you help us by becoming a volunteer?