A dedicated volunteer who turned fundraising into a way of life has raised an incredible £100,000 for Yorkshire Air Ambulance since 2010.

Jan Swallow, of Honley, attends over 20 fundraising events every year and last weekend’s Ravensknowle Children’s Gala took her total to £100,069.

Jan holds a deeply personal connection to the charity, after her son Graham was involved in a serious motorbike accident in May 2007.

While travelling on Snake Pass, a road well-known for its sharp bends connecting Sheffield and Manchester, Graham hit a road sign, causing him to fall from his bike and down a steep roadside ravine, with his motorbike suspended from a tree above him.

The Yorkshire Air Ambulance’s critical care team, including Sammy Wills, the charity’s current longest-serving paramedic, provided crucial on-scene support, including extracting Graham from the ditch, which took almost an hour to complete.

Once freed, the team swiftly transported Graham to Sheffield Northern General Hospital, where he sadly passed away.

In the wake of her son’s death, Jan found solace in fundraising for the organisation that gave her son the best chance of survival.

In 2009, Jan took on her first fundraising challenge, raising over £1,700 by completing a charity skydive from 13,000ft as part of Huddersfield Town’s ‘Keep It Up’ campaign, which allocated the funds between YAA and the club’s academy.

After a year of raising funds through the campaign, Jan decided to conduct her own independent fundraising, focusing all her efforts on supporting Yorkshire Air Ambulance.



Jan is an avid crafter and enjoys sewing and embroidery, a hobby she picked up from her mother, who is a keen knitter.

In early 2010, the pair combined their skills and created their own crafting business, J2 Crafts. Operating from stalls across Yorkshire and via Facebook, the duo became a hit with customers, donating 100% of their proceeds to Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Prices at Jan’s stalls range from £1 for lucky dips to £20 for more luxurious, custom pieces. Her products include pinafores, tote bags and adult bibs featuring cheeky slogans, along with charming knitted bears and popular knitted characters such as Disney princesses and superheroes. These unique pieces have garnered a loyal following, with customers often returning for more.

It is not uncommon for Jan to raise hundreds of pounds when hosting a stall, with her record being £1,800 across two days at Harewood House during a VW car rally.

The demand for their unique creations has grown so much over the last 14 years that Jan has recruited additional knitters, Audrey Jones and Pamela Franchamp, to help keep up.

Audrey and Pamela volunteer their time and skills, knitting additional bears for free, without even taking a percentage for the wool they use.




In addition to her fundraising efforts, Jan and her husband Peter are also dedicated Yorkshire Air Ambulance volunteers and can often be found assisting the charity’s fundraising teams at key events throughout the year.

Jan’s fundraising was not without its obstacles, as the Covid-19 pandemic halted events that were key for raising funds. Jan adapted by selling face masks online, featuring football team crests and other important logos, including 300 masks for The Royal College of Nursing.

During the two lockdowns, Jan created over 2,000 masks, raising £4,000 for YAA. In addition, she made 800 PPE gowns for her local hospital, demonstrating her versatility and dedication to helping her community.

Reflecting on her journey, Jan said: “When I began fundraising, it was more of a ‘let’s see how much we can achieve’ mindset. Now, it has become an integral part of my life.

“This work is both my passion and my therapy, providing a way for me to cope and find purpose. I have transformed my grief into a positive force for this incredible charity.

“I always think about how someone else’s fundraising allowed the air ambulance to attend to my son, and now I consider my efforts as paying it forward for others who need YAA’s help.

“When my son Graham was studying Fine Arts and Photography at university, he was tasked with creating a symbol and a word that represented himself. He chose the word ‘Evolve.’

“I see this as a fitting metaphor for my journey and the evolution of YAA, which has significantly grown as a service and is set to celebrate its 25th anniversary next year.”

Jan Swallow and husband Peter


Jan’s efforts have not gone unnoticed either. She has received multiple awards for her contributions, including a Yorkshire Air Ambulance recognition award (2012/13), Huddersfield Town Football Club’s ‘Contribution to the Club’ Award (2010/11), the Huddersfield Examiner ‘Services to Charity’ Award (2017), and the Honley Village Community ‘Chairman’s Award’ for Fundraising (2021).

Chairman of Yorkshire Air Ambulance, Mike Harrop, expressed deep gratitude to Jan for her remarkable fundraising efforts and said: “Jan’s dedication is truly remarkable, and we are immensely grateful for her outstanding efforts.

“Surpassing the £100k milestone is an incredible achievement, highlighting her unwavering commitment to our charity.

“Over the past 14 years, Jan’s fundraising has played an indispensable role, significantly contributing to ensuring that we can uphold the highest standards of pre-hospital critical care for those in need, thereby leaving a lasting mark on our organisation.

“Her story serves as a powerful testament to the profound impact one individual can have. As we approach our 25th anniversary, we encourage others to draw inspiration from Jan and contemplate how they too can contribute to our mission, be it through volunteering, providing support or raising awareness.”

Yorkshire Air Ambulance relies entirely on the generosity of individuals like Jan to sustain its operations.

For further information go to www.yaa.org.uk.


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