Family who required GNAAS raising funds by recycling clothing

A family who required the help of the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) has raised thousands of pounds for the charity by recycling unwanted clothing.

Will Clark, from Grasmere, has been a keen supporter of GNAAS, since he required our services back in July 2012, following a serious cycling incident.

Recalling what happened, he said: “Tragically during a charity triathlon, a stick got caught in the wheel of my bike sending me over the handlebars leading to me breaking the right side of my neck with permanent damage at the C4 vertebrae. This led to me being paralysed from the shoulders down.

“Being young and fit I hadn’t given GNAAS much thought prior to this accident. The good thing is other people’s support meant that they were there when I needed them.”

Will was flown to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle for surgery before being transferred to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough where he spent five months in rehab before finally being discharged.

Ever since, Will has been incredibly supportive of GNAAS and in 2014 he raised more than £12,500 after completing the Great North Run in a manual chair which was pushed by a team of friends and family.

Will, who is a councillor for the Lakes, not only fundraises for our charity, but is also a volunteer, and has regularly given talks to the local community about GNAAS.

He said: “I have since spoken to many groups largely in Cumbria about the charity to encourage them to give their support and help them understand where the money that they have raised or plan to raise goes and how important it is.”

Last year we hosted an open day for volunteers at our headquarters in the North East, and that’s when Will and his mother Angela were inspired to raise further funds for GNAAS by organising collections of unwanted clothing.

He said: “I attended the volunteer open day with my family at the new base at Progress House in Eaglescliffe which led to discussions about alternative ways to raise funds. My Mum suggested that perhaps we should try to arrange a clothing collection. Subsequently she has signed up as a volunteer.

“We have now had three collections of clothing. The first was quite low key, we have certainly learnt as we have gone on, and the second and third were at Ambleside Parish Centre. We also spoke to Ambleside School about what we are doing and why, and Miles the Bear, who is a mascot for GNAAS, even made an appearance.  Each time we have held a collection, word has spread and we have had a greater level of support.”

After each collection, the clothes have been picked up by our Trading Company’s recycling team, who sell the items to buyers across Europe and the UK and then donate the proceeds to the charity.

Collections can be pre-booked with our Trading Company over the phone or via GNAAS’ Facebook page and can either be a large collection like Angela and Will’s, or small amounts of bags from individual’s homes.

Will added: “We were worried about what the first collection would or wouldn’t bring. We have been overwhelmed by the level of local support. I would just say give a collection a go, pick a venue and a date and do what you can to spread the word, local printed media, social media and even go door to door with flyers.”

Mieke Tennant, community fundraiser at GNAAS, said: “In December Angela organised a collection of 250 bags of clothes, and then in January our Trading Company picked up no less than 365 bags from Ambleside Parish Centre.

“I’d like to thank Angela, Will, and Ambleside Parish Centre who allowed us to use their space, as it was completely taken over by bags.

“We’re also very happy to welcome Angela onboard as an official registered volunteer for GNAAS. She is so inspirational, and she’s helping us recruit other volunteers in the area, which is fantastic.”

Their next clothing collection is taking place at Ambleside Parish Centre on 4 April 7-9pm and 5 April 10am-12pm.

For those who are unable to drop off their items in Ambleside, clothing collections can be arranged by contacting our recycling team on 01325 308 139 or messaging our  Facebook page.

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