Thursday 6 August 2020

A Ruthin mum has taken part in a Park Run every week since September last year to raise over £10,000 for the Wales Air Ambulance. 

Sally Smith, 43, was inspired to raise funds for the helicopter charity after the flying medics were called out to a car accident in June 2019. Tragically Olivia Alkir, from Efenechtyd, died in the crash and Mia Roberts and Sophie Davies were both flown to the Royal Stoke University Hospital to have lifesaving surgery. 

Sally, who has been a family friend of Sophie’s mum for many years, said: “There are many incredible things the Wales Air Ambulance did that evening, including two helicopters coming to the scene. Mia and Sophie were at Stoke Hospital within 20 minutes of taking off and both had their surgery that night. 

Sally and her son Kieran visited the girls in hospital a few weeks after the crash. She said seeing Sophie’s mother Julie with her little girl in a critical care ‘broke her heart’. 

She added: “I got in the car to come home that evening and said to my son - we have to do something to raise some money for the Wales Air Ambulance. 

Sally has been joined throughout the challenge by her friend Manon Wilkinson, who is head of the sixth form at Ysgol Brynhyfryd – the school the teenagers went to. The restrictions during the pandemic meant that Sally and Manon have had to run separately on Saturday mornings. 

Speaking of being separated for 10 weeks of the challenge, Sally said: “We couldn’t meet up and that was tough. But we continued to do it and, with the help of our families, we did it!   

“It was lovely to finally meet up and socially distance while walking and chatting and actually seeing each other.  We are hopefully going to meet up with friends and family for the last one and socially distance a 5k route, celebrating an amazing year with an amazing amount of money raised. 

Both families have been supportive of the fundraiser. Mia is a middle-distance runner, which is why Sally picked a running challenge as her fundraiser.  

Sally is no stranger to raising funds for the Wales Air Ambulance. She took part in the Chester Half Marathon in 2017 and raised £2,000. She added: “I fell in love with the Charity and what they do and was more than happy to raise money for them again.  This time, I also became a registered volunteer for the Charity too. 

“The Wales Air Ambulance provides such an important service all over Wales and especially in areas like ours due to the remote areas we have.  The helicopters are not called out to put a plaster on a cut, they are there because it’s serious. If you’ve had an experience with the Wales Air Ambulance, it is likely to have been traumatic, personal and affects you. 

The public have been very supportive throughout the year. Sally has been stopped in the street by people to say well done and strangers have also donated to the fundraiser Local businesses who she describes as being ‘amazing’, have also thrown their support behind the worthy cause. 

Reflecting on how much money has been raised for the lifesaving charity, Sally added: “To say we are thrilled is an understatement.  The most amazing news is that the girls will be at the last run, fully recovered, and Mia back up to running 10k distances. 

Lynne Garlick, the Charity’s North Wales Fundraising Manager, said: “It is wonderful to hear how the local community has got behind Sally, Manon and the girls to raise an incredible £10,705. You’re all doing a fantastic job and despite the restrictions during Covid-19, you’ve continued to show your determination to do a park run each week. Thank you so much for your support. 

“It is also heart-warming to hear that Mia and Sophie are continuing to improve and we wish them both well in their recovery.” 

If you would like to donate to the fundraiser, you can do so by visiting the Just Giving page – A parkrun every Saturday for a year in aid of Wales Air Ambulance here.