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Swansea woman to take on Ironman Wales for lifesaving charity

AN ADMIRAL worker who faced her own health challenge a few years ago is “delighted” to secure one of Wales Air Ambulance’s free charity spots on this year’s Ironman Wales.

36-year-old Kelly Williams from Swansea, who works as a team manager in Admiral Money for Admiral Group says, “It’s an honour to do it for such an amazing cause.”

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. 

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.

Kelly said, “I really love the charity. I love the work they do. I love how they support the community throughout the whole of Wales and I respect it. I think it is amazing. Just that extra additional support of having the medical teams bringing hospital standard care to the patient is phenomenal. It is needed massively.

“Plus, it is great that they offer free entry places for events like the Ironman”.

She continued, “I thought being in the field of work that I am in, along with the social life I have outside of working being part of various clubs such as Swansea Vale Tri, Peak Performance Wales, IronTriSwim and Panache Cycling– it would be the perfect opportunity to raise money for a great charity. So here I am”.

Kelly has always enjoyed challenging herself and keeping fit but when she turned thirty, she had a big health shock. Kelly said: “About six years ago I had blood clots in my lungs and leg. I did not see it coming and it made me want to look after myself even more, once I started recovering, I realised how important it is to keep yourself mentally and physically fit.

“I just decided to see it as a new challenge. I started running and then that escalated to me doing Triathlons. Then it kind of grew into let’s do an Ironman! 

“I’ve been training for it for a couple of years, I joined Peak Performance Wales and IronTriSwim to ensure I’m at my prime to be the best version of myself for it”.

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Kelly’s really committed to this year’s Wales Ironman in Tenby she trains around 16 hours a week. 

She said, “The bike is quite long distance, so it is something I need to work on personally – because it’s one of the toughest parts.  I enjoy it but I really need to work on strengthening and mindset for that.

“So, there’s a lot of training for the bike at the moment which is taking up a lot of my time. But I am enjoying the process especially now I am being coached by Panache Cycling.”

Kelly already knows what to expect, she competed last year and says swimming is her “favorite part”. She continued: “I’m strong in the water and I feel passionate about that. But on top of that it’s just the crowd and the atmosphere. It is just an incredible feeling to be part of it all.

“I think there is nothing that compares to it. A friend of mine asked going back a few years ago – Tenby at the top of Heartbreak Hill, versus London Bridge? Which one would you pick?

“It’s impossible for me to pick. That’s where it is up there for me mentally. It’s at the top. Just an amazing opportunity and achievement when you complete it. I think if anyone thinks they could do it, they should definitely at least give it a go.”

Kelly’s quite competitive – she has already set herself a target. “I want to do a sub 15 hours, that’s what my achievement would be. It would be nice if it was quicker, but it all depends on the weather and the conditions on the day.”

She had considered not doing this year’s event because she had completed 17 events last year such as LCW- full distance, Ultra marathon, and Marathons along with Ironman Wales; initially thought she “needed the break”. 

But she said, “A couple of weeks after I’d recovered after 2023. I started thinking I’ve got to give it another go. I didn’t want to miss out! Plus, I have a lot more to give. I have learnt so much about myself since taking on these challenges, I want to continue to grow”. 

“So, the Wales Air Ambulance Charity was the first one I wrote to. I wanted to raise money for this charity, and I asked, ‘can you please select me?’ 

“It was more like a beg than a request. I was taken on straight away, which was amazing.”

The Wales Air Ambulance Charity must raise £11.2m each year to keep our helicopters in the air and Rapid Response Vechicles on the road – with donations and fundraising events key to the services survival.

Kelly says the “whole process was easy”. She continued, “It felt like I was talking to people that I knew throughout it. I just put the application in, someone reached out and we have been speaking over the phone too.

“It is so friendly, and it just feels like you are going to be part of something important, something special, rather than just being seen as someone who’s just raising money.

“I also want to thank Wales Air Ambulance for giving me the opportunity to complete in Ironman Wales 2024, I also want to thank Admiral money, my clubs, family, and friends for the continuous support in everything I do.”

Wales Air Ambulance’s Head of Fundraising Mark Stevens said, “A huge thank you to Kelly for taking on the mighty Ironman Wales on behalf of the Wales Air Ambulance Charity. We love to offer free spots each year to people who want to fundraise for us, all we ask is that they raise £1,500 for us.

“It costs £11.2 million each year to run our service and we are grateful when people spend months training hard to take part in events like this, to help us achieve our target. Every penny really does count, so we can continue to serve the people of Wales and save as many lives as possible –wherever and whenever we are needed.”