Pete Breward - ambulance car service driver
It was a life-threatening experience that encouraged Pete Breward, 62, to become a volunteer.
Four years ago, Pete had cancer and malaria and was given just 24 hours to live. He describes volunteering as his way of giving back.
Pete now volunteers three days a week with North East Ambulance Service’s Ambulance Car Service (ACS), providing transport to critical care patients.
The Ambulance Car Service drivers is made up of volunteers who use their own vehicles to help with transportation to and from hospitals and clinics, leaving ambulances free for emergencies and for patients who are too ill to travel by car.
Pete has volunteered for the service for nearly three years, driving patients across the whole of the North East. He covers around 3,500 miles a month, travelling from Berwick to Middlesbrough and everywhere in between.
Pete admits he had never considered volunteering before his illness. He had been travelling the world working as a global manager in the engineering industry.
“I had never volunteered before and never thought it was something I would do,” he said.
“I’ve also taken in a Ukrainian family. If someone told me a few years ago I would be doing that and volunteering, I wouldn’t have believed them.”
It wasn’t until his last day of cancer treatment that Pete knew the ACS existed, when he was offered a car to take him home.
He had to undergo a lot of training to become a volunteer, including a driving test, e-learning, a training course and an interview.
For Pete, the best part of volunteering is being able to help people. He said: “Today I brought in a 98-year-old and 90-year-old couple and had a brilliant time. You get a sense of satisfaction from helping people who wouldn’t be able to get to hospital otherwise. I’m pleased I can do that for them.
“There are good bits and bad bits but it’s rewarding to be able to give something back.”