Cumbrian Fleet mechanic celebrates 10 years volunteering at GNAAS

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Samantha, James and Harry Howarth with the helicopter

A fleet mechanic from Kendal has recently celebrated ten years volunteering at the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS).

James Howarth, 42, has a full-time job working at Mountain Goat Tours, but in his spare time he likes to get involved with helping his local air ambulance.

Mr Howarth first started supporting GNAAS by donating money and clothing, but after hearing about a lack of volunteers in Kendal, he began donating his time in 2014.

It’s now been ten years since he signed up as a volunteer and he’s even recruited his eight-year-old son Harry to help out on occasion.

Harry Howarth with a GNAAS fundraising bucket

Speaking about why he chose to volunteer for GNAAS, he said: “I had some spare weekends so me and my wife Samantha decided we wanted to get involved with a local charity.

“We decided on GNAAS because it was a familiar sight in the Lake District and after hearing more about what was involved in pre-hospital emergency care it was evident how vital this service was in a rural area like Cumbria.

“Since joining, I now see how needed the service is across the whole of Northern England.”

GNAAS currently have over 100 regular volunteers as part of their ‘ground crew’, who dedicate their spare time representing the charity. Whether it’s delivering presentations to the public, manning stalls at summer shows, or emptying collection boxes, they help in numerous ways to support the cause.

Over the last ten years, Mr Howarth has mainly been involved in events, stalls at county shows, car shows, and bucket collections at local supermarkets.

He said: “What I most enjoy about volunteering is being able to inform the public about this fantastic charity. It still amazes me how many people think this is a government funded service.

“Everyone we talk to is always so friendly and grateful for what the crews do, it is an honour to represent them.”

For those who cannot commit to a regular volunteering role, there are several opportunities to volunteer for GNAAS on a one-off basis, especially during the summer months.

Mr Howarth said: “As a volunteer you get to meet fantastic people, attend amazing events and have fun.

“You don’t have to have the passion, that comes afterwards from meeting people who are still here thanks to the charity.”

GNAAS relies on public donations and needs to raise more than £8m every year to survive. Last year, it responded to more than 2,000 call outs. If you would like to find out more about regular or one-off volunteering opportunities, please visit or call 01325 487263.

James Howarth with other volunteers at a Summer event


· The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) is a charitably funded air ambulance service which provides life-saving care throughout the North East, North Yorkshire, Cumbria and Isle of Man.

· They operate two helicopters 365 days a year and also operate a night-time service in the North East and Cumbria on rapid response vehicles.

· The aircraft cover an area of more than 8,000 square miles and on board are specialist doctors and paramedics who effectively bring the hospital to the patient.

· The level of skill and expertise of the on-board team mean they respond to the most critically ill and injured people, giving them the best chance of survival.

· GNAAS is a progressive organisation which has pioneered pre-hospital care in the region.

· The latest techniques, equipment and drugs are constantly being evaluated to ensure the charity can provide the best care possible for their patients.

· 2022 marked the service providing 20 years of life-saving care. Throughout this time, they have responded to more than 23,500 incidents across the region, with road traffic collisions being the most frequent type of incident responded to by the team.

· They do not receive Government funding and must therefore raise £8.5m a year through public donations to remain operational. For more information visit: or follow @gnairambulance on Facebook, X, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok

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