Published: 13 October 2023

A teacher whose life was saved by the Wales Air Ambulance after a rally crash has taken part in the Cardiff Half Marathon to raise vital funds for the Charity close to his heart. 

Mike Hughes, 43, was joined by his wife Vicki, 42, in the capital on October 1 to take on their first half marathon together.

The couple, who have two daughters Elsie and Meghan, took on the 13.1-mile challenge to extend their gratitude to the Wales Air Ambulance for helping to save Mike’s life during the Cambrian Rally at Corwen in 2005. Mike was co-driving a Subaru Impreza when it left the track and careered more than 60ft through the forest, before coming to rest 30ft down a ravine.

Mike was airlifted to hospital with life-threatening injuries, which left him in intensive care with a blood clot 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, who is originally from Treuddyn in Mold but now lives outside Chester with his family, has raised thousands for the Wales Air Ambulance and continues to carry out fundraising challenges in aid of the Charity. 

As well as the Cardiff Half Marathon, earlier this year Mike also completed the Welsh Three Peaks – but with a twist.  In just 24 hours, the dad-of-two climbed Yr Wyddfa, Cadair Idris and Pen y Fan, but instead of driving to each he cycled the 145-mile distance between them.

Mike, who is the Assistant Headteacher at Ellesmere Port Catholic High School, said: “Neither Vicki or I had run a half marathon race before and we saw the chance to run in aid of the Charity, so we thought why not! We both love the outdoors and are sporadic runners. If we get the chance, we enjoy going out for a short run. With two small daughters it’s usually the easiest form of exercise.

“For Vicki, she fancied doing something, having seen me do some wacky challenges over the years and it was a chance for her to give back to the charity that saved me.

“We met Jon, a Wales Air Ambulance pilot during a base visit in Caernarfon over the summer following my Peak-to-Peak challenge and we were given a tour around the helicopter. It left a lasting impression, so when the chance came up for the Cardiff Half Marathon, Vicki jumped at it.”

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 Cymru) supplies highly skilled NHS consultants and critical care practitioners who work on board the Charity’s vehicles.

Mike was still carrying a few injuries from his last fundraising challenge and Vicki, who is a deputy headteacher, was also recovering from a ruptured Achillies. However, the couple both completed the race and collected their medals together.

Mike said: “It wasn't quite the training plan we would have liked. However, the plan worked and we both finished! We raised over £1,500 including Gift Aid, having previously raised over £4,000 for the Peak to Peak Challenge.

“I made a promise to myself when lying in my hospital bed on Bonfire Night, 2005, 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.”

“We both would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported us on our Cardiff Half Marathon fundraising journey. The Wales Air Ambulance really does make a difference and their support is truly inspirational.

Tracey Ann Breese, Wales Air Ambulance’s Events and Partnerships Fundraiser, said: “Well done to Mike and Vicki for completing their first marathon in aid of the Wales Air Ambulance.

“Mike has experienced the benefits of our service first-hand, and always provides the Charity with outstanding support 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.”

To support Mike and Vicki please donate to their Just Giving Page here