Meet the Wales Air Ambulance volunteer who can repair anything from a watch to a mobility scooter
When it comes to repairing unwanted electrical goods, there are not many items volunteer Ian Ware can’t turn his hand to. So much so, he has even built his own storeroom in the basement of the Wales Air Ambulance Charity Shop in Bangor.
Whether it is repairing kettles, toasters, televisions, watches or even mobility scooters, Ian says he will not throw anything out unless he has tried mending it. Every week you will usually find Ian in the basement, that he helped to build, repairing electrical items that can be sold for profit in the shop.
The dad-of-one, 72, who has lived in Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Anglesey, for over 30 years, joined the charity after retiring from work in a hospital pathology lab.
Spotting an opportunity, Ian convinced his former manager that he should attend a PAT testing course. PAT testing is where used electrical items that come into the store are checked to ensure they’re safe and working correctly.
He said: “We were having so many electrical items donated, rather than pay for a PAT test on each item, I suggested doing our own PAT tests in the shop as it would cost us nothing.
“I did a course and got my qualification and started PAT testing 30 to 40 items in a morning. If there was a simple problem, I would repair them properly and safely and they would go into the shop to be sold.
“We were churning out all this electrical stuff in the shop and it was all selling and making us a good profit. We even had customers coming back to the shop looking for more electricals.”
Like Ian, fellow volunteer Wayne Cooper, also did a PAT Testing course and now they both help to breathe new life into old electricals. So far, they have completed around 1,600 PAT tests, saving the charity about £2,500.
Ian said he takes great satisfaction from repairing something that would have been scrapped.
He said: “I hate to see waste. If I can mend it, then I will. It may only need a small part so I will go off and see if I can get a part and repair it. It’s a bit of a challenge really. But I have my limits, if I don’t think I can repair it really well or if I am in any doubt, it will get scrapped.
“We live in a throwaway society, where people will often get rid of something just because they want a newer model. We have even had electricals that haven’t been pulled out of the box, including new Dyson hoovers.
“We have a lot of electricals that don’t work sent in, very often they only need something small done to them. These days, it’s often easier and cheaper for people to buy a new item rather than pay for someone to fix it.
“There used to be a time you could go to a local community shop and get someone to fix something for you, however big or small. But sadly, these people are few and far between.”
Ian, or Ian Electrical as he has become known in the Bangor shop, said he has always enjoyed volunteering and finds it very rewarding.
He said: “It’s very easy when you are retired to sit at home and get stuck in the same routine. I don’t normally sit around twiddling my thumbs and I like to keep busy. Volunteering with the Wales Air Ambulance provides a focus to my week and I think my wife Barbara enjoys having a morning to herself with me out of the way!
“It is good to be out in a different environment, meeting new people and learning new skills. There is a good crew in the Bangor shop and we all have our own reasons for volunteering.
“You never know when you may need the air ambulance helicopter and volunteering is a way of giving something back to the community.”
While Ian mainly repairs watches, he has also added a new string to his bow – repairing violins. He has used his love of the instrument to restring and replace bridges of violins which make their way to the shop. He has also fixed a professional printer, a mobility scooter and a recliner.
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