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Wales Great James Hook to take on 100-mile hike for all-Wales Charity

James Hook with Pilot James Gardiner, Critical Care Consultant Ellie Lewis and Critical Care Practitioner Matt Jones

FORMER Wales and British and Irish Lions rugby international James Hook to take on ‘Hooky’s Hike’, a 100-mile hike for lifesaving charity.

James Hook, from Port Talbot, has a personal connection to the Wales Air Ambulance after they saved the life of his youngest son, Harrison, and became an ambassador for the lifesaving service back in 2021.

After seeing the Charity’s appeal for supporters to join their annual fundraiser, Walk Wales, which coincides with the Charity marking 50,000 missions, the Welsh Great decided to take on his own version of the event – Hooky’s Hike.

Hooky’s Hike will see James tackle 100 miles over five days at the beginning of June, aiming to ‘raise awareness and funds’ for the Charity.

James Hook, said, “The Wales Air Ambulance Charity is incredibly close to mine and my family’s heart. On the day that I proposed to my wife, Kim, they flew to the aid of my son who was just a baby at the time. They’re about to embark on 50,000 missions, and my son is one of them.

“I have been an ambassador for a few years now, and this is my opportunity to give something back through raising awareness and funds.

“I really hope that we can raise a lot of money in the process, and that the public will support my challenge because you never know when you or your family may need the Charity’s help.

James Hook at Wales Air Ambulance base

The Charity hopes that James’ epic challenge will encourage supporters to take part in their own Walk Wales event.

Walk Wales is an annual fundraiser which allows participants to walk, jog or run, different distances each year, whilst raising funds. This year, to mark the milestone of 50,000 missions, the Charity is asking supporters to walk, run or jog 50 miles throughout the month of June.

The father-of-three boys has doubled the required distance for Walk Wales and will start his challenge at the Wales Air Ambulance Charity shop in Tenby on Upper Frog Street. He will set off at 9am on Tuesday 4 June 2024 and will head towards Laugharne to complete day one. 

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On day two he will walk from Laugharne to Kidwelly, day three Kidwelly to Llanelli and day four Llanelli to Rhossili. His last 20-mile stretch will be from Rhosilli to the seaside village of Mumbles, where he will end his challenge. 

James, who made 6 appearances for the British and Irish Lions on the 2009 tour of South Africa and won 81 caps for Wales hopes that the public will get behind him and support him throughout the challenge.

He said, “Throughout the week we will be sharing checkpoints of where I’ll be, and we would love for anybody nearby to come and say hello to give me a much-needed boost.

“It’s a long way, and hilly in parts but knowing that every step and penny raised will save lives is my driving force and will give me the motivation to carry on.

James Hook at Wales Air Ambulance base

James has sought sponsorship and has kindly received support from The Low Cost Van Group and Owens Group.

James continued, “I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported me so far, and to my main sponsors, Low Cost Van Group and Owens Group for enabling the event to happen.”

The Wales Air Ambulance operates 24/7 throughout Wales and needs to raise £11.2 million every year to keep the helicopters flying and its rapid response vehicles on the road. 

Mark Stevens, Head of Fundraising at the Wales Air Ambulance said, “Hooky’s Hike is a brilliant fundraising initiative, and we are extremely grateful to James for taking on this challenge; helping to raise awareness and vital funds for our charity. James has first-hand experience of the essential work that our charity does, 24/7, for the people of Wales. 

“As we approach 50,000 missions, we reflect on the incredible generosity of the public. Without their continued support, we simply wouldn’t exist. If you have been inspired by James’ fundraiser, we would love for you to mark this milestone by taking on Walk Wales.

James Hook and Critical Care Practitioner Matt Jones.

“Challenges, like Walk Wales, play a vital role in raising much-needed funds to maintain our lifesaving service across Wales.   

“We wish James all the best on his challenge and are truly grateful for his continued support.”

To donate to James’ fundraiser, visit https://www.justgiving.com/page/hookyshike 

Wales Air Ambulance is consultant-led, taking hospital-standard treatments to the patient and, if required, transferring them directly to the most appropriate hospital for their illness or injury. For the patient, this can mean hours saved when compared to standard care and is proven to greatly improve survival and early recovery.  

It is delivered via a unique Third Sector and Public Sector partnership. The Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS) supplies highly skilled NHS consultants and critical care practitioners who work on board the Charity’s vehicles. 

As a pan-Wales service, the dedicated air ambulance crews, regardless of where they are based, will travel the length and breadth of the country to deliver emergency lifesaving care.

Mark the 50,000 milestone with Wales Air Ambulance by signing up to complete you own Walk Wales challenge today; visit www.walesairambulance.com/walk-wales-2024

James Hook and Critical Care Consultant Ellie Lewis.

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