18 Jan 2017
This month our Community Development Manager Christine Margetts celebrated 20 years working at London’s Air Ambulance. Joining the charity in 1997, she has been one of the people at the centre of our journey as we went from threat of closure in the early days of the charity to winning a Pride of Britain award in 2016.
In the mid-90s Christine worked as a medical secretary to Dr Gareth Davies, later to become the Medical Director at London's Air Ambulance. It was then that she was inspired to generate additional income to help cover the costs of the service, paving the way for the charity as we know it today.
“There was a young lady, Pat Swaby, working as a medical secretary and she was looking after the merchandise. I said to her “Pat, perhaps we could sell it.” So I went to the administrator at The Royal London Hospital and he agreed that I could set up a stall at the front of the building. Later in the day when I had finished, I went back to Gareth and said “Look, this is really good! I’m selling all the merchandise”. And at that point, he said to me: “I think you’d be really good at fundraising.” The rest is history.
From selling branded umbrellas, baseball caps etc. outside The Royal London Hospital, Christine went on to take the job of Fundraiser and become our charity’s first employee. It was these early years at the charity that proved to be most difficult. Find out more in our timeline
Christine has played an incredible role in some of our charity’s biggest milestones.
“I managed to get our first Rapid Response Car sponsored. Later the salesman told me he agreed just because I had the courage to come up and ask.”
In 2006, when the charity office was just a team of four full time employees, Christine also helped launch our weekly Lottery. Today, the scheme has more than 45,000 players and has raised over £2.5 million.
“When we started the Lottery we put an advert on the radio hoping we were going to get loads and loads of people who wanted to sign up. We invited extra staff and set up four bespoke phones to take the phone calls. We thought we were going to be inundated with sign ups. Well, we didn’t. It was awful."
"So, plan B. I got in touch with the London Ambulance Service, the Metropolitan Police and the Fire Brigade. We asked them if we could attach a direct debit to their salary slips and that’s how we got our first couple of hundred members. From then it just grew.”
In her 20 years at London’s Air Ambulance Christine has organised 11 golf days, six gala balls and three abseils. She has collected at stations, supermarkets and local festivals, set up regular collection pots across the city and secured a permanent shop for charity merchandise at The Royal London Hospital. It’s been a long and tough road, but Christine doesn’t shy away from difficulty.
“If I could do it again I definitely would,” says Christine.