When Kevin Howard-Perry was saved by the emergency services after collapsing at home, he vowed that one day he would give something back to the people who helped save his life.

To mark his 56th birthday, the grandfather-of-six, decided to take on a series of gruelling and challenging runs over mountainous terrain to raise money for the Wales Air Ambulance.

Despite having a pacemaker and heart disease, Kevin pushed himself to the limit in all weathers alongside his loyal cuddly friend, Wales Air Ambulance mascot Del the Dragon, to run 1,000 miles in 193 days and raise £5,000 for the Charity.

He said: “Initially I was going to run 100 miles for my 56th birthday and my roofer suggested I did it for charity. I didn't realise that the Wales Air Ambulance was a charity at that time, but when I found out and saw the huge budget they needed plus the size of the daily task in hand, it had to be for the Wales Air Ambulance.”

Kevin, who lives with his wife Sarena in Llanddefel, Bala, retired from the Army after 37 years of service last year, where he rose from the ranks of craftsman to become a lieutenant colonel.

In May, on his birthday, he completed the Branas Ultra Mountain Marathon in 40 hours and 48 minutes. The non-stop, 100-mile run went from Llandderfel to and up Snowdon and across Garnedd Ugain, Crib Goch, Elidir Fawr and Y Garn, then due to the weather finished with a 50-mile road run back to his home in Llanddefel.

Kevin’s second race, a few months later, saw him take on the six summits of Snowdon where he ran 43 miles over six paths of 1,7000 feet of ascent and descent. The next endurance test for Kevin, was the Dragon's Back Race, considered to be one of the toughest mountain races in the world and sees competitors tackle 230 miles of Wales’ uniquely wild, trackless, and remote mountainous terrain in six days.

The dad-of-two braved the route in reverse from Cardiff to Caernarfon, unsupported and completely solo. At 138 miles, Kevin was forced to pull out due to a foot injury, but his determination and efforts have not gone unnoticed, raising a tremendous £5,000 for the Wales Air Ambulance.

The Charity needs to raise £8 million every year to keep its helicopters in the air and rapid response vehicles on the road.

The Wales Air Ambulance service offers advanced critical care across Wales. It is delivered via a unique Third Sector and Public Sector partnership between the Wales Air Ambulance Charity and the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS Cymru). As a result, the service is consultant-led and is known as a ‘flying emergency department’, taking hospital-standard treatments to the patient at the scene of an incident. This includes the ability to administer anaesthesia, deliver blood transfusions and conduct minor operations, all at the scene of an incident.

Kevin said: “I found out that there are many forces personnel who serve both with the Wales Air Ambulance and the Royal Navy, Army or RAF. I decided to push myself and inspire others to contribute during these difficult financial times by my dedication to complete these events.

“I also have heart disease which was discovered at the end of my Army service and which was a bit of a shock. I now have a pacemaker. I was saved by the emergency services in Wiltshire when I collapsed at home in 2016, so want to give back to the Wales Air Ambulance as part of Wales’ emergency services network that protects us all 24/7.

“The Wales Air Ambulance is a vital part of the Safety Matrix that protects everyone in Wales 24/7. As a charity they need our financial support. I'm very pleased with the outcome and all the support I received from many people along the way. It was certainly worth the effort, and I hope I am able to help save some lives and help the Wales Air Ambulance go forward into the future.”

Alwyn Jones, Community Fundraiser for Wales Air Ambulance, said: “This has been an absolutely amazing challenge by Kevin. I am humbled by his enduring commitment to raise funds for our charity. Kevin has raised an amazing amount of money and we have to acknowledge that he has gone through the pain barrier to achieve it. Congratulations Kevin and the warmest of thanks for your tremendous fund raising.”

There are several ways that the public can continue to support the Wales Air Ambulance. These include online donations, signing up to the Charity’s Lifesaving Lottery or by coming up with their own innovative ways to fundraise at home. Further information can be found via www.walesairambulance.com.  

Alternatively, a £5 text-message donation can be made by texting the word HELI to 70711.