A Flintshire grandfather has taken part in a 923 mile three-generation cycle ride to celebrate his 79th birthday and raise money for Wales Air Ambulance.

Jim Jones cycled from Land’s End in Cornwall to John O’Groats along with his son Martin Firth, 53,  and his 16-year-old grandson Alfie, who live in Marford, Wrexham.

Jim had planned to take on the challenge for his 80th birthday but decided to bring it forward a year due to mild arthritis in his knees.

Jim, who was a HGV driver for 54 years and only retired two years ago, has always been very active and said he loves setting himself challenges to keep busy.

He has had a window cleaning round for over 40 years and has had previous successes in athletics, winning numerous cross country medals for Wrexham Athletic Club over the years.

Jim, who lives in Northop Hall, near Mold, only took up cycling in his mid-60s and has done the  challenge twice before – the first one being 12 years ago.

He said: “I started cycling when I was about 64-years-old as I had to pack up athletics due to my calves packing in. It doesn’t affect me when I am cycling. I have always been involved in athletics and I love keeping busy and having something to challenge myself and focus on.

“The ride was easier than I had expected. I put in quite a bit of training beforehand. The five months prior to it I must have cycled 1,500 miles, so I knew I would be able to do the 100 miles every day for nine days.

“We started at Land’s End and went up to John O’Groats. Originally, I had decided to do it on my own but then Martin suggested doing a three generation ride. It was good to do it with my son and grandson Alfie and they were a big help. 

“When you have company, you are talking and cycling and you get through the tough bits but when you are on your own it’s in your head and makes carrying on tougher. It was great to be out with my grandson Alfie and he did tremendously well for his first proper bike ride. He really enjoyed it.

Martin is already trying to encourage me to do another bike ride next year in Ireland – but we will see.”

Jim, who turns 79 next week, (Monday, December 5) said he wanted to raise money for the Wales Air Ambulance after discovering that the lifesaving saving charity does not receive any government funding and has to raise £8million every year to keep its helicopters flying and rapid response vehicles on the road.

He said: “I watch a lot of television programmes about the air ambulance around the country and I was shocked they don’t receive any help from the government. I said to my wife Jan, it’s not right they don’t get any support and so I decided to do something and raise money for the Wales Air Ambulance.  It is such a vital service.

“We raised over £4,000 from donations by friends, family, ex work mates, customers, and my wife Jan went round the village collecting money. She was behind us along the way and raised a lot of money for us. I would also like to say thanks to Chris for being our transport along the way too.”

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.

Debra Sima, Community Fundraiser for Wales Air Ambulance, said: “Well done to Jim, Martin and Alfie for taking on the Land’s End to John O’Groats cycle. It is a remarkable achievement, and I am sure many memories will have been made between the three generations on the trip, as well as raising vital funds for our charity.

“Well done on raising £4,032 for the Wales Air Ambulance. We wish Jim a wonderful 79th birthday on December 5.”