A Thornbury volunteer has been awarded a special edition commemorative coin for her outstanding contributions to the British Red Cross.

Ann Probert, 76, has volunteered for the charity for more than 27 years following a dramatic incident in Anglesey.

Ann said: “We were sitting on the beach when my father decided to go for a swim. My mother went down to the water with him. Suddenly, she started screaming - come out, come out! I could tell something was wrong.

“He began running out of the sea. He collapsed before he could get to us. We found out later he had a subarachnoid haemorrhage, which is a very severe brain tumour.

“I felt completely helpless. I had no idea what to do.

“A man appeared from nowhere. He said, I’m first aid trained. Can I help you? He made sure my father was able to make it to hospital safely. I can’t tell you how grateful we were.”

“He lay in a coma for the next eight days. We stayed by his side day and night. Thankfully, he woke up a week later, he had a stroke but was able to return home with us.

“While he was still in the hospital, I was walking to the shops when a man collapsed right in front of me. I called an ambulance and he was taken to the exact same ward as my father.

“I thought, the universe is trying to tell me something.”

Ann booked onto a first aid training course as soon as she got home, which happened to be with her local branch of the British Red Cross.

She said: “I enjoyed the course so much I decided to sign up to do event first aid with the Red Cross. I volunteered with them for 18 years. I used to go along to all the school and village fetes and I manned the first aid ambulance at garden centres near my home. I felt happy to be able to offer help to people in the same situation we were in that day on the beach.

Ann began working with the Red Cross First Call service in Bristol after moving to Thornbury in 2011.

"It helps vulnerable people returning home from hospital," said Ann.

“I found it enormously fulfilling. I loved being able to work in the local community in Thornbury. Some people were bereaved. Some had mental health issues. It was heart-breaking to see but I was glad to be able to offer them a lifeline.”

Ann has taken a step back from volunteering due to the lockdown restrictions. She says she’ll always be grateful for the role the Red Cross has played in her life.

She said: “It started quite suddenly - my entry into the Red Cross - but it’s been given me the confidence to help people in crisis. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

Ann’s coin is one of 150 uncirculated £5 coins donated by the Royal Mint to British Red Cross volunteers and staff nominated by their colleagues for going above and beyond during the Covid-19 emergency and to celebrate the charity's 150th anniversary.

Gazette Series:

Since the start of the emergency staff and volunteers in the South West have provided support to 4,166 people; delivering food parcels to 212 homes; and checking up on 105 people on the doorstep.

Featuring bespoke artwork by Henry Gray, the coin bears the words “The Power of Kindness”.

For more information about the 150th anniversary of British Red Cross visit redcross.org.uk/150years.