As doctors and paramedics at North West Air Ambulance Service work round the clock, there is an army of volunteers who work on the ground, helping to raise funds.
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The North West Air Ambulance Charity (NWAAC) has many shops in local communities, selling donated and second-hand stock to boost cash.
One of the more popular stores is the newly-refurbished unit in High Street, Garstang, which reopened earlier this month, 10 years since the original shop first launched.
In that time, the town has generously donated and bought thousands of items, with every purchase helping to keep the charity’s helicopters in the skies.
Household items, bric-a-brac, books and clothing will all stock the freshly refurbished outlet, and visitors are invited to find and purchase a special gift to help fuel the work of the lifesaving charity.
As our charity and service grows, it’s important our shops are part of this journey, and are fit-for-purpose for all who walk through our welcoming doorway.Paul Freethy
Paul Freethy, senior retail operations manager for the charity’s nine retail outlets, says: “We’re thrilled with the refresh to our Garstang store.
“Over the years, the quality of items on offer, community atmosphere, friendly staff and volunteers have made it a staple for our supporters in the town. As our charity and service grows, it’s important our shops are part of this journey, and are fit-for-purpose for all who walk through our welcoming doorway.
“The need for our crew’s lifesaving service has never been greater, with nearly 1,000 missions already attended since April this year. This would not be possible without the generous donations and support we receive through our retail stores, such as Garstang, which all provide a significant source of income. We hope the community are excited to celebrate and support our crew’s incredible efforts in our newly updated store.”
Karl Graham, the Garstang shop manager, says: “I’ve been at the Garstang store for just over a year. It’s a wonderful place to come along to every week, for our staff and volunteers, and it will be lovely seeing our regular customers and new faces in our refreshed shop.”
The shop would not be made possible without the work of its dedicated volunteers. Edie Southwell, 76, of Garstang, has been a volunteer at the shop for more than six years. She works on a Monday morning, serving customers and tidying stock.
The mother-of-two, who has three grandchildren, says: “My husband and I moved to the area about seven years ago and I didn’t really know anyone. I said to my husband I was considering volunteering and he said it was a good idea.
“I thought the NWAAC shop was the best charity shop in the area and it still is even now. We get good quality goods and it is a great place to work.
“It gets me out and about and I am meeting lots of people. I do a variety of jobs in the shop. I work on the till area and tidy up. I am also serving customers.”
Jan Harding, 58, of Pilling, joined in March and volunteers between two and four times a week. She says: “I recently retired and had moved to the area and thought I would get out and do some volunteer work.
“I chose NWAAC because of my links with work in the health service as I was a physiotherapist and I also feel it is an important charity, It relies purely on donations as it gets no government funding, so it is all about the goodwill of volunteers and the public.
“I work in the shop, mostly sorting out donations, steaming clothes and I occasionally work on the till.
“There is a great bunch of people and the people of Garstang are very loyal to the shop. We get a lot of regulars that come in. We get a lot of cash donations and also people drop off lots of clothes and bric-a-brac for us to sell.
“Our van drivers are also worthy of a mention, as they are an integral part of the shop, taking items to various places. They are so helpful and obliging and I wish to thank them.”