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Somerset grandma of six will walk on plane to support NHS

16 September 2021

A 75-year-old grandmother of six is preparing to embark on an epic ‘wing walk’ fundraising challenge to support the NHS. 

On Sunday 19 September, 75-year-old Patricia Dare from Chard, Somerset, will take part in a sponsored aeroplane wing walk in support of NHS Charities Together and South Western Ambulance Charity.

Aptly named Dare will stand on the wing of a biplane as it takes a ten-minute flight across Honiton in Devon. She hopes to raise £3,000 in support of her chosen charities and has already raised over £1,000.

Patricia said: “Lots of people think I’m mad, including the nurses I used to work with and my six grandchildren, but they think I’m brave too. Maybe I am a bit mad – I am a little bit afraid of heights after all! But my daughter Jenny said you won’t bottle it will you mum, and of course I won’t – she knows me better than that.

“Jenny is in the NHS and I’ve seen how hard they all work and how stressful it can be, and I just wanted to help in a small way. I wanted to volunteer at the start of Covid but couldn’t because of my age, and so I looked at this instead. I don’t know exactly what attracted me to the wing walk, but I’ve always thought I’d quite like to do one … so I just said why not! I’m quite looking forward to it really – I want to say thank you to the NHS and ambulance services for all their hard work.”

Patricia was a domiciliary care worker for 30 years and often went above and beyond in her role, spending time with patients outside of working hours to help them with shopping and running errands. As a testament to her hard work and caring nature, she won the South Western Award for Carer of the Year in 2015, after being nominated by long-term patient turned close friend, Linda.

Patricia’s daughter Jenny Winslade followed in her mother’s footsteps and today works as an Executive Director at South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. The South Western Ambulance Charity is one of the charities Patricia is raising money for. It was in speaking with her daughter that the former carer saw the huge strain the pandemic has had on the NHS.

Jenny, 53, said: “Mum knows how difficult it’s been for all of us in the NHS, particularly recently. She wanted to give something back because she’s seen friends she used to work with struggling, she’s seen me struggling, and she appreciates the risks staff have taken these last 18 months because she’s been working alongside them for many years.

“I’ve had over 30 years in the NHS and there has never been a time like this. I just continue to be amazed by how staff manage to keep going in the face of adversity and focus on doing the right thing for those in front of them. If we can raise funds and help people to continue to do a great job that will mean a huge amount to all of us.”

NHS Charities Together is the national independent charity caring for the NHS. Together with a network of 240 NHS charities across the UK, it provides extra support to help the NHS go further for staff, patients and communities.

Ellie Orton OBE, Chief Executive at NHS Charities Together, said: “We are so grateful to Patricia for embarking on this incredible challenge, she’s a true inspiration. Fundraisers like this help NHS staff continue with their vital, life-saving work and create better health for us all.

“Although Covid-19 cases are declining, clinics are busier than ever due to a backlog of patients, and a shortage of ambulance service specialists means staff are seeing unprecedented levels of demand and facing burnout. That’s why NHS staff still need our support – and we’re so grateful to all of our incredible fundraisers, like Patricia, for giving something back.”

Feeling inspired by Patricia? Go direct to her Virgin Money Giving page to sponor her; or alternatively visit www.nhscharitiestogether.co.uk

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South Western Ambulance Charity

The South Western Ambulance Charity, founded in 1995, uses gifted monies to benefit those in our communities who use our service and to improve the welfare of the staff and volunteers of the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. 

Our charitable support covers Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire including Bristol and Swindon.

If you would like to show your appreciation for the care that you or your loved one has received from us in the form of a charitable donation please visit our online giving website: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charities/SWASC.