A COUNTY DURHAM man has raised an astonishing £15,000 for his local air ambulance from hosting clothing collections at his home since the start of the pandemic.

Peter Harris, 71, of Murton, near Seaham, first started organising collections in early 2020 after one of his neighbours sadly died and it was decided her clothes were going to be donated to support the Great North Air Ambulance Service.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of the work carried out by the charity’s collection team, it was deemed unsafe to continue during the start of the pandemic and they were briefly furloughed.

The Northern Echo: Peter Harris and some of the clothing donations he has kept at his Murton homePeter Harris and some of the clothing donations he has kept at his Murton home

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During this time, the team volunteered to help deliver vital PPE to hospitals, before restarting clothing collections in May 2020, but only responding to pre-arranged collections.

Mr Harris said: “I offered to store the clothes in my shed and GNAAS could collect them from mine when they were back doing collections.

“It started off with one-off collections being done, and we got given the bags to fill up with clothing and other items and the team came to collect them.

“They mentioned they were looking for people to be community collection points and I’m retired so I have time to do it, so my details were passed onto the team and a week or so later, they got in touch and sent me a pack with the information I needed including a poster I could use promoting what they collect and the bags.

The Northern Echo:

“I shared the poster on our local community Facebook page and said that people can bring stuff to me. It started off with about 20-40 bags and it’s just grown from there.”

Mr Harris believes he’s raised approximately £15,000 from collecting clothing, books and other items, and with the recent increase in fuel prices, he’s encouraging others to host their own collections.

He said: “When you think of the cost of fuel by driving up and down all the streets, you realise it’s worthwhile having big collections so they only have to drive to specific locations and can save some money.

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“GNAAS is always a charity I’ve supported. It’s a necessary service and I might need GNAAS myself because I have heart problems and my wife is diabetic. I think of it like an insurance policy, you hope you don’t need it, but it’s there.

The Northern Echo: A driver from the trading company collecting the clothesA driver from the trading company collecting the clothes

“I enjoy doing the collections and I get pleasure out of knowing my work is supporting a charity, so I would definitely encourage other people to get involved and host their own collections.”

To arrange a clothing collection on behalf of GNAAS, please contact the charity’s collections team on 01325 308 139 or fill in the contact form on their website: https://www.greatnorthairambulance.co.uk/our-work/contact.

 For those who live in Murton, the drop off point for donations is by Mr Harris’ shed door at 27 Penryn Avenue, Murton, Seaham SR7 9LL.

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