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MP highlights work of volunteers

PUBLISHED: 13:41 22 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:29 07 July 2010

THE vital role volunteers play in communities has been highlighted by North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb.

Mr Lamb has been on a fact-finding visit to the successful East Anglian Air Ambulance charity shop, off Fakenham market place, where the volunteer and award-winning manager Sylvia Howell and her voluntary helpers have raised a remarkable £136,000 in eight years through the shop and fundraising events.

THE vital role volunteers play in communities has been highlighted by North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb.

Mr Lamb has been on a fact-finding visit to the successful East Anglian Air Ambulance charity shop, off Fakenham market place, where the volunteer and award-winning manager Sylvia Howell and her voluntary helpers have raised a remarkable £136,000 in eight years through the shop and fundraising events.

About 75pc of that amount has been raised through the shop, with the remaining 25pc raised through a variety of fundraising events staged over the years.

Mr Lamb chatted with Mrs Howell and some of her volunteers and benefactor Betty Powell, of Fakenham, who has agreed to pay the rent on the shop premises for three years in order to keep it open.

The Lib Dem MP described the efforts of everyone involved in the operation as a “labour of love”. Mrs Howell is also assisted on a day-today basis by her husband, John Howell.

Mr Lamb said: “Communities in towns like Fakenham don't function without the work of brilliant volunteers. They display a selfless commitment of so many people who care, not for themselves but for others. It is admirable and it constantly makes me feel utterly humble when I see what people achieve”.

He added : “This particular team at Fakenham are a remarkable group in raising so much money for such an essential cause and I have enormous admiration for them”.

Mr Lamb said that as the Lib Dem health spokesman he was acutely aware, particularly in a rural community, of the importance of the air ambulance.

“You could be on the coast near Fakenham, having been involved in a road accident and be at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital within minutes and it literally could be a matter of life and death,” he said.

Mrs Howell said that she felt there was such generous public goodwill towards the charity because anyone could need it at any time.

Over the years Mrs Howell has received two top community awards and been invited to a Buckingham Place garden party for her role with the charity.

While at the shop Mr Lamb was given afternoon tea by the volunteers as they chatted to him about their work for the charity.

The shop volunteers are Nancy Bramwell, Kaye Slade, Margaret Sadler, Dobbie Fisher, Betty Hoptrough, Connie Skipper and Sybil Sugden.

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