Dedicated Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance volunteer retires after a quarter of a Century

Margaret Lakin-Whitworth, one of Market Rasen’s most well-known and much-loved characters, has rung up her last sale at the town’s Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance Charity Shop. After 23 years dedicated to the shop, Margaret’s last shift was marked with an afternoon tea with many of her fellow volunteers and staff members.

During her time with the Charity, Margaret has seen the shop go from strength to strength, starting off in a much smaller premises than the current shop occupies.  Over the years Margaret and her dedicated team of volunteers have helped contribute towards the vital life-saving services of the Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance Charity.

Twenty-five years ago, Margaret was one of a small team of volunteers who were determined to raise enough money to establish a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service in Lincolnshire.  The team set out to rally support and raise money by selling items such as pin badges, hats and t-shirts.

Margaret explained: “It was something that I believed in. I had a husband and three daughters who all drove and living in a rural area I could see the benefit of an air ambulance. Before we even got a helicopter, we held a ball to raise money and sold as many pin badges as we could. Our first meeting was in a hall in Waddington behind the ambulance training station. There were just eight of us.”

That was the start of what we now know as the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance. In 1994, after two years of dedicated fundraising, the Charity decided the only way to boost donations to cover the anticipated monthly outgoings was to start flying. With enough money in the bank for four months’ flying, the first helicopter was leased and on 13 April 1994 the first patient was airlifted.  The same year Margaret helped to open the Charity’s first shop in a garage in Middle Rasen. At first it was just open one afternoon a week, but as it started raising more money it opened more often. It soon moved to its own premises in Market Rasen Market Place.

Margaret added: “We started off selling mostly bric-a-brac and grew from there. Soon we started selling clothing too. When we got bigger we moved to a shop in Queen Street but then decided to start selling furniture as well so moved again, just up the road this time. When we outgrew that shop we moved to our current shop which allows us to focus on furniture in one side and clothing in the other. I started out doing one day a week, then two, and after my husband died I started full time, it gave me something to do. It is a local Charity that I have always believed in.

Over the years, Margaret has not only volunteered in the charity shop, working 5 days a week with just Wednesdays and Sundays off, she has also helped out at community events, running tombolas and stalls for the Charity, collecting lottery subscriptions and helping to spread awareness of the Charity.  Lincs & Notts CEO, Karen Jobling, said: “We cannot express in words just how grateful we are to Margaret for everything she has done for the charity.  Margaret is one of just a handful of volunteers who have been with the Charity right from that start and she has seen many changes over the years and watched the charity grow. We are so grateful for all the hours that Margaret has dedicated to the Charity and we will be sad to say goodbye but wish her well in her retirement.”

There are always volunteering opportunities at the Market Rasen and other shops. You can volunteer from just one afternoon a week and all training will be given. If Margaret has inspired you, please contact Shops Co-ordinator Kay Chambers on 01522 548469 or email and see how you can join our team.

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