Get To Know The Herdy Heroes Charities

Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS)

Hello! What’s your name and what do you do?

Hi! My name is Leya and I work in Corporate Support for the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS). That means it’s my job to work with all the fantastic local businesses who keep us flying.

Whether that’s with teams who want to fundraise for us at work or businesses that want to partner with us.

Smashing. So, could you give us a brief overview of the Great North Air Ambulance?

GNAAS brings pioneering pre-hospital care to the scene, rescuing hundreds of severely injured or ill patients every year. Our life-saving air ambulance service operates in the North East, North Yorkshire, and Cumbria.

Our onboard team is usually made up of a pilot, a specialist pre-hospital doctor, and a paramedic who not only work on board our helicopters and overnight rapid response cars, but also carry out advanced research to keep us at the forefront of pre-hospital care.

What achievements has GNAAS accomplished recently?

Last year, the Jet Suit Paramedic was born. You may have seen it in the news?

Indeed! It looks amazing!

It’s a concept that, if brought through from trial to completion, could see GNAAS paramedics reach patients who have been injured in remote locations in the Lake District. We hope to demonstrate how this can work later in the year.

This year, we launched GNAAS’ first business club in the hopes of uniting businesses across the region, giving them the chance to build lasting relationships and hear from inspirational speakers. Membership fees from the club will go towards helping GNAAS continue to provide life-saving critical care to ill or injured patients.

I guess that answers my next question, which is: how does the GNAAS serve the community?

We respond to the most seriously ill and injured patients throughout the region, whether they are in the town centres or the fell tops. We are there for them when they need us most.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you guys, Leya?

We’ve seen whole sections of our fundraising collapse as people just aren’t allowed to gather and hold the usual kinds of events they would normally. We’ve just about weathered the storm so far—and in fact the team haven’t missed a single day throughout—but we hope the public can get behind us once more as soon as it is safe to do so.

I’m sure they will! What future challenges do you expect to face?

We have to raise more than £5m a year to survive, so every day is a challenge! We just like to take it day by day, building relationships with supporters that last.

As an aside, if Little Herdy was looking for a job in the GNAAS, what role would suit them best?

Definitely a co-pilot alongside Miles the Bear (our mascot)!

We’ll have to get designing some sort of pilot outfit for Little Herdy! How will the Herdy Heroes Tea Towel fundraiser benefit you guys?

The money will mean we are able to respond when someone needs us most. Just this morning [on the day of interview] the Pride of Cumbria has been out twice to people in need. This wouldn’t be possible without your support.

Leya, what’s the best thing about your working day-to-day life?

No two days are ever the same! I speak to so many different people, whether that’s supporters or colleagues. I work on lots of different projects which means I also get to be creative in my job and the best thing about it is knowing that I’m contributing to making a difference across our region.

What are the GNAAS’ goals and hopes for the future?

To keep surviving but also to keep finding better ways of doing things. We’ve never really stood still and don’t plan on doing so any time soon.

Cumbria Community Foundation

Hello, what’s your name and what do you do?

Andy Beeforth, Chief Executive of the Cumbria Community Foundation.

Could you give us an overview of the Cumbria Community Foundation please, Andy?

The Community Foundation is a grant maker. We support hundreds of amazing charities and individuals across Cumbria.

We target our grants on the most pressing issues; in the last year we’ve spent over £3M in response to the Covid pandemic. We also run appeals in response to key issues like Winter Warmth for older people and encourage more people to give in support of local causes.

What achievements has the CCF accomplished recently?

There’s been so many things. In the last year we’ve given out nearly £5M, which is a truly exceptional amount of money. £2M of that was raised for our COVID-19 Response Fund, which has gone to almost 200 different groups.

Charities and community groups have been amazing this year, delivering medicines and food, providing emotional support and practical help.

We’ve also raised nearly £200K in support of our Winter Warmth Appeal, which has helped over 1,000 older people stay safe and well this winter.

We’ve also been busy re-directing funds to support the purchase of laptops by schools to help families in need with home schooling.

Incredible work! In what way has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you?

Like most people we’ve all been working from home. The amount of work has sky-rocketed with huge demand for our grants. At one stage our grants committees were meeting weekly so that we could get money out to people as soon as possible.

What future challenges do you expect to face, Andy?

Sadly we have many families who are struggling financially in ways they never imagined. There’s been a terrible toll on some people’s mental health; isolation and loneliness is a big issue, and young people have lost valuable time in school.

How can Little Herdy help? What job would Little Herdy do in the CCF?

Little Herdy would be responsible for cheering everyone up – he could be sent on a tour to visit people we’ve helped to brighten their day. Spring is here soon and we all need a bit of ‘spring’ in our step.

What’s the best thing about your working day-to-day life?

Meeting the amazing people who we fund and seeing what difference our grants make.

I bet that is a wonderful feeling. What are your goals and hopes for the future?

We want to be able to help more people and to continue to grow our ability to give. This would mean no older person being worried about their ability to put the heating on, and supporting young people to be the best they can.

I’d like more people to understand how the Community Foundation helps the people of Cumbria and how they can be involved.

NHS Charities Together

What’s your name and what is your role?

Annabelle, Fundraising Executive of NHS Charities Together.

Hey Annabelle. Could you give us a brief overview of NHS Charities Together?

NHS Charities Together is the umbrella organisation for NHS charities across the UK and helps to provide things that are over and above core NHS funding to support our staff, patients, and volunteers.

The money raised is distributed to these charities as grants, helping to support them with various projects, including emergency grants, staff mental wellbeing, and recovery grants.

How does the NHSCT serve communities?

There are more than 240 NHS charities across the UK and most of them focus on helping our hospitals do more. These charities give £1 million every day to the NHS so that people can stay well for longer and get better faster. In recent years NHS charities have funded major projects, pioneering research, and medical equipment at our hospitals.

The member charities play a key role in mobilising volunteers to support NHS staff, whether that's brightening wards and waiting areas with colourful and engaging art, or building important links between our hospitals and their communities. Other NHS charities support mental health, community health, and ambulance trusts.

Sounds awfully busy! What achievements have you celebrated recently?

We've raised over £140m, of which £110m has already been allocated and granted to NHS Charities across the UK. We've got loads of case studies on our News & Blogs page of how the funding has been spent!

Weird question time: if Little Herdy was looking for a job in your organisation, what role would suit them best?

He would definitely enjoy being a Fundraiser!

Who'd be able to say "no" to that face?


Annabelle, what’s the best thing about your working day-to-day life?

Well, every day is different! I love hearing stories from incredible fundraising to the way the funds are spent and the difference it makes.

Lake District Search & Mountain Rescue Association

Richard Warren, Lake District Mountain Rescue

What's your name and what do you do?

Richard Warren, I'm Chair of the Lake District Search & Mountain Rescue Association.

Could you give our Herdsters a brief overview of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue?

Yes, so LDSAMRA is the umbrella organisation that looks after 10 Mountain Rescue Teams: Cockermouth, Coniston, Duddon & Furness, Kendal, Keswick, Kirkby Stephen, Langdale & Ambleside, Patterdale, Penrith, and Wasdale. 400 volunteers, all in all, with each team requiring anywhere between £30,000-£100,000 a year to run.

Our busiest teams are probably the Langdale/Ambleside team and the Keswick team, they get around 150+ callouts a year. The Wasdale team sees around 100+ callouts, Patterdale 60+... and we're all volunteers!

We basically help to channel communications to team members, teams, and the national body, Mountain Rescue England and Wales. We also coordinate between the teams to the benefit of everyone, learning from our shared experiences.

We’re one of the busiest Mountain Rescue regions in the UK.

And what other myriad of ways do the teams serve communities?

Well apart from the obvious of helping people in trouble on the hills or in the valleys, we rescue a stunning number of dogs, cows, sheep, and any number of other animals really, from all manner of inaccessible places.

A Herdwick sheep being rescued by Lake District Mountain Rescue

With all that in mind, how has the COVID-19 pandemic affected operations?

Oh, where do we start?

Well PPE must be worn at all times now; we basically have to assume that everyone we come into contact with to help is asymptomatic. That means wearing your leggings, jacket, visors, and of course a face mask. And especially in the summer of 2020, it was particularly hot, that made things extremely uncomfortable.

You can’t social distance when you’re stretchering someone off the fells!

Not to mention then having to decontaminate all the kit afterwards, no more than 2 people can be in a vehicle at once, which then means bringing more vehicles to a scene… I haven’t been in a Mountain Rescue vehicle since March 2020, I’ve had to use my own to get to incidents.

2020 was also particularly challenging in terms of busyness. We had 50% more callouts than usual in August, for example, and access to incidents could be hindered by the sheer number of cars and traffic on the roads.

Goodness. Hopefully our Herdy Heroes tea towel fundraiser will help things?

Well yes, I've seen that Herdy has raised £25,000 grand is it? Phenomenal amount, from tea towels of all things! We're very grateful, and hopefully this can help us expand our awareness messaging to help people be prepared and safe on the fells.

A massive thank ewe to everyone who spared their time to talk to us, it's really appreciated!

Learn More About The Herdy Heroes Fundraiser Tea Towel