Posted: Wed 1st Nov 2023

18 Years after near-fatal rally crash, teacher’s dedication to Wales Air Ambulance soars with £60k raised to date

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Nov 1st, 2023

A teacher who owes his life to the Wales Air Ambulance has raised more than £4,000 by climbing The Welsh Three Peaks with a twist. 

Mike Hughes, 43, took on Yr Wyddfa, Cadair Idris and Pen y Fan mountain in 24 hours, but instead of driving between the mountain ranges, he cycled the 145-mile distance. 

He was joined by a group of friends, many of whom have taken part in Mike’s other fundraising events for the Wales Air Ambulance and have helped to raise thousands of pounds for the charity that is so close to Mike’s heart.  

The dad-of-two, who is originally from Treuddyn near Mold but now lives outside Chester, required the lifesaving charity during the Cambrian Rally at Corwen in 2005. 

Mike was co-driving a Subaru Impreza when it left the track and careered more than 100ft through the forest, before coming to rest 30ft down a ravine.

He was airlifted to hospital with life-threatening injuries, which left him in intensive care with blood clots on his brain. He was told it would take 18 months for him to make a full recovery, but just four months later he was back in the classroom.

Since his accident 18 years ago, Mike’s promise to raise funds for the charity has continued and he has raised more than £60k.  

He said: “The PeaktoPeak24 Team is made up of friends mainly from the motorsport community, as well as friends with a medical background. We all realise just how important the Wales Air Ambulance is, what they can do, and how they can save lives. 

“This year, the challenge was rather special. We have completed some big bike rides across Wales in the past, but we are all older and wiser now, so this was seen as a rather bonkers idea! We realised the mountains alone are a great challenge but adding in the cycle rides and their elevation gains, takes you closer to scaling Everest from base camp which is rather extreme.

“Torrential rain and strong winds meant life on Yr Wyddfa was difficult and at more than one point we questioned if it was a good idea, but we summited and returned to base for a quick change.

“The weather didn’t let up when cycling to Cadair either. Ascending Cadair in fog and rain, spirits remained high but unfortunately it was at this point we had to say goodbye to one of the team as he had a mechanical issue.

“With the weather, we were now behind schedule so the next 100+ miles on the bikes was challenging. Crossing Wales by car is tough going, so you can only imagine what it was like riding up Dinas Mawddwy with a headwind. We arrived in Brecon feeling exhausted but with time gained back. We set off for the summit of Pen y Fan joined by the support crew for the last climb of the day. 

“We completed the challenge in 22 hours, with the final summit being the complete opposite to Yr Wyddfa in the early hours; Pen y Fan was a glorious sunset!”

The team raised £4,189 for the Wales Air Ambulance and Mike personally wanted to thank his friends Derwyn Roberts, Ianto Fon Jones, Pete Gray, Nathan Griffiths, Chris Spilstead and support team Dylan Thomas, Merfyn Williams, Arwel Thomas and Tom Griffiths.

Mike, who is the Assistant Headteacher at Ellesmere Port Catholic High School, said: “It is great to have their continued support and I know everyone, including myself, would like to thank everyone who donated to the challenge.

“Events like this don’t just come together, it was a huge team effort. It takes good friends and the wanting to make a difference to complete such a challenge and raise the funds.”

[Mike and his wife Vicky]

The air ambulance service in Wales is delivered via a unique Third Sector and Public Sector partnership. The Wales Air Ambulance Charity relies on public donations to raise the £11.2 million required every year to keep the helicopters in the air and rapid response vehicles on the road. 

The Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS) supplies highly skilled NHS consultants and critical care practitioners who work on board the Charity’s vehicles.  

Tracey Ann Breese, Wales Air Ambulance’s Events and Partnerships Fundraiser, said: “Well done to Mike and his friends for completing this remarkable challenge. Mike always shows great determination for every challenge that he takes on and he never ceases to amaze me. 

“Having experienced the benefits of our service first-hand, he continues to support the Charity through his fundraisers to help fund our missions, so that we can come to the aid of others across Wales.

“We wouldn’t be able to keep our helicopters flying and rapid response vehicles on the road if it wasn’t for the generous donations we receive from people like Mike, who help us raise vital funds to help fund our operations.”

Mike added: “I supported the Wales Air Ambulance before my accident but I never thought I would ever need it. I made a promise to myself when lying in my hospital bed, not knowing where I was or who my parents were, that I would always support the Charity that saved my life. I have been lucky to be able to live a normal life and that is because of the actions of the Wales Air Ambulance. I will always be indebted to them.

“The Wales Air Ambulance really does make a difference and their support is truly inspirational.”

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