Catholic teacher raises £60k for Wales Air Ambulance after rally car crash

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 life-saving 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 the team had to say goodbye to one of the team as he had a mechanical issue.

Mike added: “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.”

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.