Not many of us can claim to have saved thousands of lives in our time. Pensioner David Rawson, on the other hand, most definitely can.
His work with Wirksworth-based charity Aquabox has helped provide clean drinking water to tens-of-thousands of people struggling to survive natural disaster, war and famine.
But David, 79, and wife Tina, 71, of Bakewell, aren’t content to sit on their laurels.
Every year for the past 12, the couple have made two trips to impoverished parts of Africa to offer hands-on help to those most in need.
The couple will be making their next trip to the Gambia, in Africa, later this month.
David, who used to own a plumbing business, said: “The project is to replace the wood on 48 desks in a very poor school. The children are currently sitting on these iron bars and are forced to hold their books in class.
“With the Rotary Club, we have raised £1,448 to pay for the wood and the work. We have arranged for a Gambian joiner to help too.
“It really will make a huge difference to the children.”
David said he had seen some very upsetting, yet inspiring, things on his travels.
He said: “It’s fantastic when you see people with absolutely nothing making the most of their lives. Growing food and getting by. But sadly, it’s not always the case.”
David added: “We visited a school once for children who were deaf and dumb.
“Most of the children there had caught meningitis due to drinking dirty drinking water, which had caused them to be deaf before they had learned how to speak – it really was heartbreaking to see.”
Thanks to Aquabox, though, countless children have been spared such a cruel fate.
David said: “The box has 74 items in it. By far the most important thing is the water filter.
“If looked after properly, the filter will make filthy water drinkable forever.”
David said the filter can provide clean water within 15 minutes and has the capacity to purify 100 litres in an hour.
He said Aquabox volunteers have sent 11,000 boxes since 2011.
Before the couple make their trip to the Gambia, David will be attending a special service at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, for British Empire Medal holders.
David – a legend, a gentleman and a true inspiration – was awarded his medal for services to the community, in England.
More about the Aquabox family
Volunteers like David and Tina work at the Aquabox headquarters, in Wirksworth, every Tuesday and Thursday.
They make 60 filters a week and each box costs the charity £30.
David said that since Aquabox was launched, he has helped to raise more than £60,000 to build the boxes, which have been sent out to people suffering amid the Ebola epidemic, the Nepal earthquake, and the hurricane in the Philippines.
The box contains 74 items in total, most notably the water filter. But they also contain survival bags and humanitarian goods.
The boxes also contain a teddy bear and a blanket – all created by knit and natter groups across Derbyshire.
David said: “I would like to say a big thank-you to everybody in the knit and natter groups.
“They do such a fantastic job and save the charity thousands of pounds with their efforts. Money that can be used to make even more boxes.”
To find out more about Aquabox, visit www.aquabox.org.