Barnsley schoolgirl walked 117 miles for Yorkshire Air Ambulance after being inspired by helicopter landing near her home

A schoolgirl has walked more than 100 miles to raise money for Yorkshire Air Ambulance – after being initially too shy to talk to volunteers when they landed near her home.

Kind-hearted Julia Zbik felt too shy to approach paramedics to say "thank you" after spotting them land in a field in Barnsley, so raised money for them instead

Kind-hearted Julia Zbik felt too shy to approach paramedics to say "thank you" after spotting them land in a field near Darfield, Barnsley, earlier in the Spring, so decided to raise money for them instead.

The 10-year-old was on a bike ride with mother Gabi Zbik on March 31 when they saw the air ambulance landing in a field after being called to an incident.

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Curious Julia was fascinated, but felt too embarrassed to go up and speak to the pilot.

Julia Zbik felt too shy to approach paramedics to say "thank you" after spotting Yorkshire Air Ambulance land in Barnsley, so raised money for them instead

So instead, the pair went home and researched the charity, finding out that, by coincidence, a fundraising campaign was launching the following day to run throughout April.

"It was like a spark in a moment," said Julia's mother, Ms Zbik, 41.

"We had been out for a bike ride and on the way back home she saw the air ambulance landing in a field. She is quite a curious girl and started reading the labels on the side of the helicopter.

"She really wanted to go over to the pilot so she could say 'thank you' for the job that they do, and I kept encouraging her to go and say hello but she was too shy at the time."

Yorkshire Air Ambulance relies on £12,000 a day to run its life-saving operations across the region

Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) requires £12,000 a day to run its vital operations saving the lives of thousands of people across the region each year.

After finding out about the charity's Hike4Heli's campaign in April encouraging people to put their walking boots on, Julia began walking and cycling at every opportunity she could, racking up an impressive total of 117.36 miles.

She switched her journey to school, where Gabi also works as a teaching assistant, to a walk, and even encouraged 16-year-old brother Oskar to come out with her.

The sprightly schoolgirl managed to get in nearly 12 miles on one day, and raised £169 from friends, family and teachers at her school who sponsored her.

Laura Lawton, South Yorkshire Community Fundraiser for Yorkshire Air Ambulance, said: “We would like to say a huge thank you to Julia for taking part in our recent Hike4Helis campaign and a big well done for completing 117 miles, it is a fantastic achievement. It’s great to see younger people taking part and inspiring the next generation of fundraisers.

"It costs £12,000 a day to keep both of Yorkshire’s air ambulances maintained and in the air and the £169 that Julia has now raised will help greatly towards the vital funding of our service.”

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