A group of people are standing in front of a yellow helicopter, holding gold balloons. There are a '1' and two '0' balloons. Some of the people are wearing flight suits.

We are proud to announce that Jan Swallow, our dedicated volunteer has raised over £100,000 for Yorkshire Air Ambulance since she began her fundraising journey in 2010.

Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) is proud to celebrate the remarkable achievement of Jan Swallow, a dedicated volunteer from Holmfirth, who has raised over £100,000 for the charity since she began fundraising in 2010.

Jan attends over 20 fundraising events per year and recently surpassed her ambitious target during a charity gala in Ravensknowle Children’s Gala, where her efforts brought her total to an impressive £100,069.

Jan holds a deeply personal connection to the charity, after her son Graham was involved in a serious motorbike accident in May of 2007. While traveling on Snake Pass (A57), a road well-known for its sharp bends connecting Sheffield and Manchester, Graham hit a road sign, causing him to fall from his bike and down a steep roadside ravine, with his motorbike suspended from a tree above him.

The Yorkshire Air Ambulance’s critical care team, including Sammy Wills, the charity’s current longest-serving paramedic, provided crucial on-scene support, including extracting Graham from the ditch, which took almost an hour to complete. Once freed, the team swiftly transported Graham to Sheffield Northern General Hospital, where he sadly passed away.

In the wake of her son’s death, Jan found solace in fundraising for the organisation that gave her son the best chance of survival.

A yellow helicopter is hovering above a field surrounding by trees

In 2009, Jan took on her first fundraising challenge, raising over £1,700 by completing a charity skydive from 13,000 feet as part of the Huddersfield Town Football Club’s ‘Keep It Up’ campaign, which allocated the funds between YAA and the club’s academy.

After a year of raising funds through the campaign, Jan decided to conduct her own independent fundraising, focusing all her efforts on supporting Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Jan is an avid crafter and enjoys sewing and embroidery, a hobby she picked up from her mother, who is a keen knitter. In early 2010, the pair combined their skills and created their own crafting business, “J2 Crafts”. Operating from stalls across Yorkshire and via Facebook, the duo became a hit with customers, donating 100% of their proceeds to Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Prices at Jan’s stalls range from £1 for lucky dips to £20 for more luxurious, custom pieces. Her products include pinafores, tote bags, and adult bibs featuring cheeky slogans, along with charming knitted bears and popular knitted characters such as Disney princesses and superheroes. These unique pieces have garnered a loyal following, with customers often returning for more.

It is not uncommon for Jan to raise hundreds of pounds when hosting a stall, with her record being £1,800 across two days at Harewood House during a VW car rally. The demand for their unique creations has grown so much over the last 14 years that Jan has recruited additional knitters, Audrey Jones and Pamela Franchamp, to help keep up. Audrey and Pamela volunteer their time and skills, knitting additional bears for free, without even taking a percentage for the wool they use.

In addition to her fundraising efforts, Jan and her husband Peter are also dedicated Yorkshire Air Ambulance volunteers and can often be found assisting the charity’s fundraising teams at key events throughout the year.

Jan’s fundraising was not without its obstacles, as the COVID-19 pandemic halted events that were key for raising funds. Jan adapted by selling face masks online, featuring football team crests and other important logos, including 300 masks for The Royal College of Nursing. During the two lockdowns, Jan created over 2,000 masks, raising £4,000 for YAA. In addition, she made 800 PPE gowns for her local hospital, demonstrating her versatility and dedication to helping her community.

A group of people are standing in front of a yellow helicopter, holding gold balloons. There are a '1' and two '0' balloons. Some of the people are wearing flight suits. two of them have their heads through the two '0' balloons.

Jan’s efforts have not gone unnoticed either. She has received multiple awards for her contributions, including a Yorkshire Air Ambulance recognition award (2012/13), Huddersfield Town Football Club’s ‘Contribution to the Club’ Award (2010/11), the Huddersfield Examiner ‘Services to Charity’ Award (2017), and the Honley Village Community ‘Chairman’s Award’ for Fundraising (2021).

Chairman of Yorkshire Air Ambulance, Mike Harrop, expressed deep gratitude to Jan for her remarkable fundraising efforts, stating, “Jan’s dedication is truly remarkable, and we are immensely grateful for her outstanding efforts. Surpassing the £100k milestone is an incredible achievement, highlighting her unwavering commitment to our charity. Over the past 14 years, Jan’s fundraising has played an indispensable role, significantly contributing to ensuring that we can uphold the highest standards of pre-hospital critical care for those in need, thereby leaving a lasting mark on our organisation. Her story serves as a powerful testament to the profound impact one individual can have. As we approach our 25th anniversary, we encourage others to draw inspiration from Jan and contemplate how they too can contribute to our mission, be it through volunteering, providing support, or raising awareness.”

Yorkshire Air Ambulance relies entirely on the generosity of individuals like Jan to sustain its operations. Her incredible fundraising efforts have made a significant impact, helping to ensure that YAA can continue to provide critical care to those in need.