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Couple’s Cambrian Way Challenge for Charity

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A daring duo of Welsh Ambulance Service staff are taking the high road and walking the length of Wales — all for charity.

Paramedic Kevin O’Connor and his Emergency Medical Technician wife Cath, based in Bargoed, are aiming to complete the epic 298-mile Cambrian Way challenge in three weeks, and have even used up their annual leave to do so.

Setting off from Cardiff Castle on 01 September they hope to reach Conwy Castle on the North Wales coast by 21 September, raising plenty of awareness and a bit of cash along the way for The Ambulance Staff Charity (TASC).

Kevin & Cath O’Connor

Kevin said: “We want to highlight the struggle all ambulance services have been going through the last four months, and support colleagues who may need help, especially on the mental health side through the months that lie ahead in this, the worst pandemic in living memory.”

Already well into a training routine of regular 15 mile walks the pair are aiming to complete between 14 and 23 miles a day depending on terrain during the challenge.

“For us, this test really starts once we get past Abergavenny and the big mountains begin,” said Kevin.

“We’re confident we’ll make the 300 miles but the middle and North are tougher — but that’s where we like to be.

“We’ll be camping most nights but will take a B&B every third or fourth night.”

Expecting to burn around 5,000 calories each a day they will be taking packets of dehydrated vegetables and plenty of pasta for their camping stove.

A loyal network of friends and colleagues will be meeting them at key points along the way to help fuel them up and provide other essential supplies.

Kevin & Cath sporting their TASC vests

Both coming from military backgrounds, the pair are no strangers to tough physical challenges, and on previous smaller treks in Scotland and the Alps, have carried up to 50lbs in weight each in their rucksacks.

This time they plan to travel a bit lighter and with the help of kind sponsor CC Accountants Ltd have been able to purchase some modern lightweight kit and a GoPro camera to help document the Mammoth trip.

“We’ll be navigating with a map and compass but we do have a GPS system as well.

“We really can’t wait to get going,” said Cath.

Kevin and Cath have set themselves a £5,000 total to reach for TASC and are well on their way to that already.

“It would be great if we could smash that total as well as raising awareness of the work and stresses ambulance staff across the UK go through every day,” said Kevin.

The revered Cambrian Way challenge involves 22,500 metres of ascent and involves the summiting of many famous peaks including Wales’ highest, Mount Snowdon.

To donate to the cause and wish the intrepid couple well, visit their Just Giving page here.

Air Ambulance Heroes Need Your Help

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Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS) has announced that it has raised more than £1m so far through its Coronavirus Emergency Appeal.

However, despite the generousity of all those who could donate, this is just over a third of the total shortfall which the charity was predicting.

Air Ambulances are reserved for only the most urgent and distressing emergencies which occur in our communities.

Recent cancellations of major events and a sudden decrease in fundraising income has caused a notable decrease in the vital funds which they need in order to operate and to serve us.

The life-saving charity launched its Coronavirus Emergency Appeal in April to cover the additional costs of operating its world-class pre-hospital emergency response service safely during the pandemic.

As a charity, this vital service relies heavily charitable donations from people like you, with some money also coming from grants.

KSS Crew with an emergency Air Ambulance

It costs KSS £14 million a year to deliver its emergency service, in which specialist doctors and paramedics provide critical treatment to patients at the scene of serious incidents where only the very highest skills sets available will do.

89% of these funds are typically raised through the incredible generosity of the people of Kent, Surrey and Sussex and the amazing people who volunteer and fundraise for them.

However, during this unprecedented year, the charity has been forced to launch an Emergency Appeal for the first time in its 30 year history.

KSS emergency Air Ambulance in flight

The charity has managed to raise £1m to date, thanks to the generous support from the public which has formed 86% of the money raised, and a Government grant which was shared across the 21 Air Ambulance charities within the UK.

Because all major fundraising events have been cancelled for the foreseeable future, and many traditional methods of raising money are now severely challenged, KSS is still facing a significant income shortfall and must raise a further £1.9m to ensure it can continue to save lives 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

David Welch, CEO of KSS commented: “We simply cannot thank people enough for the support we have received so far.’

View from a KSS emergency Air Ambulance helicopter

“When we launched our appeal, we aimed to raise £535,000 initially to meet the immediate additional costs of continuing our life-saving service during the pandemic and we have received an amazing response.’

“It is truly humbling how generous people can be. We’ve received help from a wide range of sources and in a variety of forms — from financial donations from our supporters and the communities we serve, through to PPE from local businesses, the loan of four vehicles from Jaguar Land Rover and a large supply of oil and AdBlue for our response vehicles from Moove.’

“Every single donation, every single gift has helped, and we are so thankful to everyone who has responded so far.’

“Yet, despite this and the contribution from Government, with the continued impact of the pandemic we still face a significant shortfall of £1.9m.’

“Last year, we were called out to help over 2,500 people in life-threatening situations across Kent, Surrey and Sussex.’

“We have an outstanding, highly skilled medical team and we are determined to continue to deliver the best possible outcomes for our patients and to continue to run our charity efficiently and responsibly.’

KSS Crew proudly show their gratitude for the £1m raised

“To secure our future, we urgently need your continued support – there are so many ways you can join those in the community who have already supported and got involved.’

“Let’s work together to continue to save lives during this difficult and unprecedented time.”

KSS has been rated “Outstanding” by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in all five of its inspection criteria: ‘safe’, ‘effective’, ‘caring’, ‘responsive’ and ‘well-led’.

It is the only Air Ambulance Service to have achieved this, as well as being the busiest in the UK. KSS is also the only UK Air Ambulance Service which is able to fly to emergencies 24/7.  

To support the KSS Coronavirus Emergency Appeal, please visit www.aakss.org.uk/appeal