‘By hook or by crook, I’ll help you’ Ken’s walking sticks raise £50,000 for Yorkshire Air Ambulance

Harrogate stickmaker Ken Horner. Picture: Tony Johnson.
Harrogate stickmaker Ken Horner. Picture: Tony Johnson.
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If you’re a regular at North Yorkshire’s agricultural shows and auction marts, then chances are you’ve admired the beautiful sticks and shepherd’s crooks made by Ken Horner.

What you might not realise is that those same items are helping to keep Yorkshire Air Ambulance’s life-saving helicopters in the air.

Over the past 15 years, Mr Horner has raised £50,000 for the charity through sales of the sticks, repairing hand tools and hosting an annual dinner – and it all began with an article in the pages of this newspaper.

“I saw an article in The Yorkshire Post that there was going to be a talk about the air ambulance. It had been going for a year then,” Mr Horner recalled.

“I’d just semi-retired and thought I would have a look. There were two ladies telling us what would be happening and I thought ‘That’s a worthy cause to do something for’.

“As a tradesman and working man, I didn’t want to have nothing to do and it’s nice to have something to do which is helping other people.”

Soon Mr Horner was hosting his first dinner, an event at York Market which raised £600.

“Since then I’ve done repairing of garden and hand farm tools, market stalls and shows. It just seemed to carry on,” he said.

“I’ve gotten to be very well known and made a lot of friends. It’s nice to go to all these different places and meet people. I’ve really enjoyed it.

“As long as I can keep going and get about, I’ll keep plodding on.”

Mr Horner, who lives in Follifoot near Harrogate, set himself the target of reaching £50,000 last year. And it was in recognition of this milestone that he received a citation in March at the charity’s base at RAF Topcliffe near Thirsk.

Somewhat fittingly, the citation was presented by the then High Sheriff of North Yorkshire, John Furness, who is one of the many people to have bought Mr Horner’s walking sticks over the years.

Mr Horner said he was “just gobsmacked” as he had simply expected to meet some of the crew who respond to 999 calls.

While there, Mr Horner said he was also reminded of why he helps the charity to generate the £4.4m needed every year to keep the charity’s two helicopters in operation.

“Just as we were leaving, it took off to get a baby to hospital,” he said. “They do a hell of a lot of good work. If it wasn’t for them, a lot of people wouldn’t be here.