A team of students rowed more than 80 kilometres without ever leaving a Swansea shopping centre and all to raise a boat-ful of cash for Wales Air Ambulance.
The12 students, all University of Wales Air Cadets, tackled the four hour Quadrant Shopping Centre static row-a-thon and raised over £440 for Wales Air Ambulance as a fellow student owes his life to the charity.
Nick Salter, now 19, of Whitchurch, Cardiff was left in a coma and with severe facial injuries following a horrific cycling accident when he was just 11.
And according to Nick, who remembers nothing about the accident, he wouldn’t be studying International Wildlife Biology at the University of South Wales, in Pontypridd, today had the Wales Air Ambulance not flown to his rescue.
He said: “I had gone to the Forest of Dean on Scout camp. I can’t remember anything about the actual accident but I’ve been told I fell over the handlebars of my bike and hit rocks face first before tumbling down the slope.
“I was in a coma and I also broke my arm. All I remember is waking up in a hospital in Hereford and being told how lucky I was. The Wales Air Ambulance rescued me from the mountain and I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them.”
He added: “Ever since the accident I have tried to raise funds for Wales Air Ambulance. It’s such a vital service and simply couldn’t operate without donations and fundraising.
“Unfortunately I couldn’t get to the Quadrant Shopping Centre for the row-a-thon. However, I’m delighted my fellow students have spent the day raising funds by tackling the challenge.
“I really appreciate all their help. It means a lot and the more we raise the better it has to be.”
Ian Kirkpatrick, Manager of the Quadrant Shopping Centre, said: “We were delighted to help out with such a good cause.
“The South Wales Air Ambulance has been based in Swansea for many years and it provides a vital service.
“We do live in a fantastic and beautiful part of the world but when things go wrong it can also be inaccessible and the Air Ambulance has saved so many lives and deserves all our support.”
Student Chloe Tulip, 21, of Exmouth, Devon, who is studying physiology at Swansea University, was one of the dozen rowers to tackle the exhausting challenge, and she said: “It’s been a really enjoyable, if tiring, day. I can’t believe how kind everyone has been and very few people have walked past without donating something.
“We have no idea how much we have raised and it’s going to take quite a bit of counting. Wales Air Ambulance is such an amazing and important charity and we know Nick Salter, and countless other people, wouldn’t be alive today without their help.”
Student Jack Stalley, 21, of Peterborough, said: “We had students from eight Welsh universities taking part. We decided to raise funds for Wales Air Ambulance as it is our nominated charity this year and of course for what they did for our fellow student, Nick Salter. They undoubtedly saved his life.
“We started at noon and planned on rowing 80 kilometres in four hours. We very quickly reached the 50 kilometre mark before tiredness began to set in and we slowed up a little!
“We are so grateful to the Quadrant Shopping Centre managers for allowing us to fundraise in the centre. The Swansea public have been very generous indeed and we hope to have raised a really good amount of money by the end of the challenge.”
Catherine Voysey, 20, of Axminster, Devon, who is studying environmental science, at Aberystwyth, added: “We have been rowing in 20 minute stints and those that aren’t rowing have been rattling buckets and talking to the public alongside the Wales Air Ambulance mascot.
“It’s been a tremendous day and the public have been very generous. It hasn’t just been about raising funds but also about raising awareness of the fantastic work Wales Air Ambulance does.”
Wales Air Ambulance’s Swansea-based volunteer co-ordinator, Margaret Squires, was on hand to help students during their challenge and give out information about the role of the charity to the public.
She said: “It’s been a wonderful effort and the students have been absolutely brilliant. It’s a wonderful way to raise funds while getting out message across about what the charity actually does and what we need to raise in terms of funds.
“It’s a stark fact that we need to bring in £6m a year to keep the three Wales Air Ambulance helicopters in the air and able to respond to emergencies as and when they happen.
“The charity is grateful to the University of Wales air cadet students and the Quadrant Shopping centre management for allowing the rowing challenge to take place.
“And of course I’d like to thank the very generous Swansea public for all their help and donations.”