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Connah’s Quay cyclists fund air ambulance mission

A spontaneous visit to Caernarfon Airport inspired a group of cyclists to take on a challenge for Wales Air Ambulance, raising more than £2,000 for the charity.

After coming across the charity’s Caernarfon base on a trip to Dinas Dinlle, David ‘Franko’ Richardson, 47, and his wife, Jackie discovered that Wales Air Ambulance depends entirely on public donations to keep its four helicopters in the air and saving lives.

Having a family friend and a work colleague airlifted on separate occasions, Franko was inspired to raise enough money to fund at least one potentially lifesaving mission.

Franko said: “I thought it would be a wonderful gesture if we could raise enough money to cover one flight and possibly save one life.”

On the journey back home, Franko suggested that he and his wife cycle the 75 miles from the Caernarfon airbase to their home in Connah’s Quay, Flintshire. Despite not being a cyclist at the time, Jackie accepted the challenge and soon they had recruited a team of 17 others.

Many of the riders were new to cycling but were in good hands with the group’s oldest and most experienced rider, 75 year-old Alan Perrin.

Franko said: “Alan is a local cycling legend and embraces everyone that shares his passion for the sport. He is always willing to help develop less experienced riders, so we were really excited to have him on our team.”

After weeks of training, the group set off from Wales Air Ambulance’s Caernarfon base on a wet Sunday morning. Constant rain and a tough headwind throughout the entire journey proved it to be a tougher challenge than anticipated.

A quick pit-stop at The Bike Hub in Rhyl, where hot drinks and cake were very generously provided along with a bike repair, was a very welcome break. The difficult weather and several mechanical issues did not deter the group, who arrived back in Connah’s Quay by early evening.

The sponsored ride has so far raised more than £2,000, smashing their target of funding one helicopter mission. A single call-out costs £1,500 and the charity needs to raise more than £6.5m every year.

North Wales Fundraising Manager, Lynne Garlick said: “We absolutely loved Franko’s cycling idea and we’re very grateful for the whole group’s support. We run one of the most advanced air ambulance services in Europe, but can only do so with the generosity of the public.”

She added: “Wales Air Ambulance runs a café in Caernarfon Airport with views of the runway and our helipad, so members of the public are welcome to visit us and see the helicopter in action.”

The team’s JustGiving page is still open for donations. Please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/caernarfon2cq.

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