Woman from Newcastle raises more than £24,000 from recycling clothes

Our community fundraiser Amanda Simmister has raised more than £24,000 for GNAAS from recycling unwanted clothing.

Amanda Simmister, 46, from Wideopen, Newcastle, started collecting bags of clothes in 2010 to support the Great North Air Ambulance Service’s (GNAAS) recycling arm, which is based in Newton Aycliffe.

She said: “I began collecting as at the time, I wasn’t really able to help with much else. So I thought it could be my best contribution to begin with and it would save the charity going all over for a bag or two.”

Amanda’s mother Jackie Davison, 76, provides space at her home in Wideopen for people in the local area to donate their unwanted items, which includes clothes and mobile phones.

These are regularly picked up by the recycling team from GNAAS’ Trading Company who sell the items to buyers across Europe and the UK and then donate the proceeds to the charity.

Amanda is a long-time supporter of GNAAS and volunteered for the charity for 13 years before joining the team as a community fundraiser this year, which she’s declared is her “dream job”.

The bags are mainly filled with clothing, however other items that are accepted by the Trading Company include curtains, towels, handbags, belts, shoes in pairs, and bedding, apart from quilts and pillows, and strictly no bric-a-brac.

She said: “Each collection fills me with pride. It is my way of helping and ensuring we have lots of local support. I always want to better my previous totals but as long as I pass the number of bags I set as my goal each year I am happy.”

Amanda uses a spreadsheet to keep track of how many bags and mobile phones her local community have donated and since her records began, she has handed over more than 8,300 bags and 300 mobile phones which equates to over £24,000 raised for GNAAS.

She added: “Over the years, the support I have received from people has been and continues to be amazing.  People know their bags are going to the charity and helping towards the yearly costs of the service. During my time of doing this, I have many people who repeatedly contribute to the collections and I have made some very good friends from this too.

“In addition to clothing, a lot of people in my local area have donated raffle and tombola prizes to me. These are always greatly appreciated, as we can then use them at GNAAS events throughout the year.”

The charity’s Trading Company has previously been the target of kerbside bag thefts, so to help combat the issue they offer a service Monday to Saturday, where people can book in a collection at a pre-arranged time. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a large collection like Amanda’s, as they can pick up a small amount of bags from different individual’s homes.

This service is available across the North East, Northumberland and Cumbria and can be booked over the phone or via GNAAS’ Facebook page.

Amanda added: “If anyone can host a clothing collection like my mam and myself, I would recommend it as it is a great feeling being such a big part of the community.

“It only takes some time and space if you get people to drop the bags off to you. As GNAAS come to collect the bags from the house and load the van themselves, it really is a simple way of supporting our local air ambulance service.

“My local community has already donated 1,172 bags and 24 mobile phones this year which is an amazing achievement and I am grateful for everyone’s support.”

John Ballan, general manager at the Trading Company added: “Amanda has been incredibly supportive of GNAAS over the years and is a massive asset to the charity. We’d like to thank Amanda and the local community who drop off bags of clothing, as every donation ensures that the critical care team from GNAAS continues to help those in need.”

To arrange a collection on behalf of GNAAS, please contact the charity’s collections team on 01325 308 139 or fill in the contact form on our website.

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