Jeanette Hart MBE

When you think of fundraising you think of big events, crazy ideas and huge cheques. From people jumping out of planes, abseiling down buildings and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, fundraising just seems to be getting bigger and better. In fact, we think it’s even getting big enough to tell the Queen!

Well, our very own volunteer Jeanette Hart has done just that. In fact not only was her fundraising fit to tell the Queen, it received a special recognition from Her Royal Highness when Jeanette was awarded an MBE in the 2011 New Years Honours. So what did Jeanette do to receive such an incredible recognition?

She spent twenty years standing on the streets of North Birmingham shaking her bucket and encouraging people to donate their loose change to her favourite Charity... Midlands Air Ambulance.

Every Saturday Jeanette makes her way to one of her three ‘patches’ on College Road and Kings Road in Kingstanding or the High Street in Erdington and starts shaking her bucket hoping to attract the generous nature of the weekend shoppers. Proving herself a dedicated volunteer she sticks to this routine 52 weeks a year.

It’s not just the buckets that get Jeanette’s attention though, the humble collection tins get her love too, all 237 of them!

It may not be extreme fundraising but it is an important source of income for the Charity that is funded solely by public donations. Together bucket and tin collections account for nearly 10% of Midlands Air Ambulance’s annual income.

You may be surprised to hear that Jeanette’s fundraising has raised an impressive £30,000 - that’s enough to fund sixteen life-saving missions across the Midlands. In 2010 alone Jeanette raised nearly £12,000, just through collecting loose change!

And what makes it all worthwhile for Jeanette is the people that she meets who are always so “friendly and generous”. Every weekend she hears different stories of people’s own experiences. “It’s amazing just how many people have something to say about the air ambulance and how it has benefited their friend, family or neighbour.”

A moment that has stayed with Jeanette throughout her fundraising career is when she was shaking her bucket one Saturday and a woman dropped tuppence into her bucket saying “Midlands Air Ambulance saved my son’s life.” On hearing this, a man came over to Jeanette, opened his wallet and gave her a twenty pound note saying “You came out to my son but couldn’t save his life. I hope this helps.” It’s moments like these that keep Jeanette fundraising, despite now having had twelve operations for arthritis.

When people think of Jeanette not only do they check their pockets for change but they remember the very odd raffle prize that was once donated to her. The prize, a simple old box, seemed harmless enough but this was no ordinary box... inside there was a live hand grenade! The bomb squad was subsequently called and the whole street evacuated whilst the grenade was examined. Eventually they took it away and blew it up, much to Jeanette’s disgust who was planning on selling the grenade on ebay and donating the funds to Midlands Air Ambulance.

Jeanette’s fundraising kicked off after seeing the emergency helicopter in action whilst on holiday in Cornwall. “When I returned to Birmingham I did some research on the local air ambulance and discovered that it needs to raise £6 million each year to remain operational.This spurred me on to get myself out there and shake those buckets!”

It’s because of this dedication that Jeanette took a trip down to Buckingham Palace to receive her MBE from the Queen. This was a day that Jeanette really enjoyed and one that we feel she thoroughly deserved. Sadly, despite her best efforts, they just wouldn’t let her leave a collection tin at the palace!

Never mind, Jeanette will be back on the streets of Birmingham this weekend shaking her buckets and counting on the generosity of the local public, something she plans on doing for another twenty years to come.

Missions completed since 1991: 50,563 | On average we airlift a child every four days | Road traffic collisions make up around 35% of the incidents we attend | The service airlifts on average four horse riders each week.