Dan Hamley, who normally spends his working day helping customers in the John Lewis store in Welwyn, admits he knew little about Essex & Herts Air Ambulance (EHAAT) before he started a three month secondment with the Charity.

He explains, “I didn’t know much about EHAAT other than it existed. I didn’t realise that they depend on public donations.

“The service is provided free of charge but, unlike NHS emergency services, the Charity receives no direct funding from the Government or National Lottery. It costs in excess of £750,000 every month to keep the service operational and cover all charitable costs.”

Dan says his time as EHAAT’s Schools Ambassador based at Little Hadham near Ware has been very rewarding.

“It’s an amazing organisation to work for, and I’m really enjoying the experience. They talk about being part of the EHAAT family, and it really does feel like that. It’s a group of people with common purpose – bringing the best possible care to people on the worst day of their lives. It’s a privilege to be part of that and get a glimpse into the incredible work of the Charity’s critical care teams and its fundraising staff.”

“I’ve heard some of the patient stories and they are very inspiring and eye-opening. One that sticks in my mind is Kate Oliver from Welwyn, who received life-changing injuries following a road traffic collision at just 23 mph. Another is Charlotte Smith, a little girl from Hitchin who was saved by EHAAT after choking at nursery earlier this year.

“The critical care teams are amazing. When I was at one of the airbases during my induction day the team had just returned from dealing with a cardiac arrest. Even so, they had all the time in the world for us.

“They want to answer your questions so that you can pass that information on to other people. I could talk to them all day! Their work is so interesting and I love hearing about how all the equipment and the helicopter works!”

As Schools Ambassador, Dan has been making contact with schools across Hertfordshire to let them know about EHAAT and giving assemblies about its work.

“In assemblies I talk about the day to day running of the organization and what the crews do. It gives the students enough information to realise that the Charity needs all the support it can get. I’ve got at least three assemblies a week to give while I am here, but I have booked them through until next year.”

Dan says he really appreciates the responses he gets from pupils.

“Some think the helicopter flies around looking for sick people rather than being called out. I love the questions I get, especially when some of the younger ones ask something that is completely random. One little girl asked me if we were like a dentist!

“When you ask them to guess the cost of the helicopter (£6.5 million) or the average cost of a mission (£2,200), they are often very low. When I tell them the answer there is often a hubbub in the room.”

Dan’s secondment came about thanks to the John Lewis Golden Jubilee Trust.

He explains, “The role here was suggested to me, and I liked the idea of going out to people and sharing knowledge. It’s given me a fantastic opportunity. John Lewis realises there are other things out there and they want partners to progress and develop. I like learning new things, and this has been a great way of doing that.

Natasha Robertson, Fundraising Manager at EHAAT said, “I must say a huge thank you to the John Lewis Golden Jubilee Trust for making this possible. Dan has been a real asset to the Charity, and made a huge difference to us in a short time. We will continue to feel the benefit of the relationships he has established with schools for a very long time to come.”

Dan says his time at EHAAT has had a huge impact on him.

“I’ve heard some of the patient stories and that is inspiring. We’ve had people applying to do the London Marathon for EHAAT, and I’ve been lucky enough to hear some of their reasons for taking part, which was quite emotional. It’s amazing how many people have a connection with the Charity, and you don’t realise that until you work here.

“I don’t think this will be the end of my relationship with EHAAT, I will definitely think about becoming a volunteer and helping out in future.”

For more information about Essex & Herts Air Ambulance and how you, your school or business can get involved with the Charity, visit ehaat.org or call the Charity’s Hertfordshire Fundraising Team on 0345 5040 055