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Five-year old Gwynedd boy who fell 18ft to be inspiration behind new TV ad campaign

The real-life story of a five year-old boy from North Wales who fell 18 feet through a farm shed roof, is to feature in a new TV advertising campaign for Children’s Wales Air Ambulance, the specialist division of the Wales Air Ambulance charity.

The TV advert, which will air from 26th to the 31st December on ITV Wales, depicts the air ambulance crew as superheroes flying to save children across Wales.

In the advert, actors will play the roles of Wil Hughes, who is now seven years old, and his mother Rhian as she recalls the horrific accident and how the air ambulance saved them from a potentially life-threatening drive to the nearest hospital, Ysbyty Gwynedd.

Rhian, 40 who works with her family on beef and lamb farm, Tan Y Bryn near Abersoch, still gets choked up when re-living the accident and said she can’t thank the crew enough for what they did for Wil that day.

“It was August in the summer holidays and we’d just come back from shopping. We were buying food as the kids wanted a barbecue.

“Wil was playing outside with his sisters and his cousin. We have a little park as part of the caravan site we look after, and they were playing on the swings and slides.

“I was busy in the kitchen preparing the food when I heard my daughter Megan scream. I will never forget that scream. The memory of it kept me awake for nights afterwards.

“I knew something was seriously wrong, I ran out of the kitchen, I had no shoes on and the tin foil still in my hand.

“I didn’t want to go in the farm shed as I thought I would see my baby, lying on the floor dead. I stopped outside the door, frozen, it was only when I heard his cries that I knew he was alive and I could go in.”

Wil had fallen almost 20 feet from through a clear Perspex panel in the roof, which was the same level as the road on one side. He fell through a broken skylight and onto the concrete, hitting his head on a small step.

Rhian continued: “Wil was just standing there, still holding a chocolate bar in his hand. I can’t believe that he was able to even stand up after a fall like that but it must have been the adrenaline. We called the ambulance straight away as Wil was complaining of a sore neck and a tummy ache so we were worried that he could have had internal bleeding.

“The nearest hospital is in Bangor which is at least an hour away and with the summer traffic it could have taken much longer, but the air ambulance crew turned up in minutes and made us feel so comfortable.

“The paramedic, Ian, spoke to Wil in Welsh, his first language, and reassured him he didn’t have to have his tummy cut open. They also let me fly in the helicopter with him which I’m so thankful for, as that would have been the most horrendous drive of my life. But instead it took just 13 minutes to get him to the hospital and I was by his side for the whole time.”

Fortunately, Wil only suffered from bruising and a few scratches – a fact which amazed the family and crew.

Rhian added, “We are so thankful for everything the crew and the doctors did that day; they really are superheroes to Wil. He talks about Ian and John all the time – I think he thinks they’re best friends.

“We host Welsh afternoon teas every year to raise money for the Children’s Wales Air Ambulance and have raised just over £4,000 so far.

“You don’t realise how far away your closest hospital is until you need to be there in minutes. I know you shouldn’t but I can’t help thinking ‘what if?’ What if he didn’t make it? What if we couldn’t get to the hospital in time?”

The advert was produced by Gingenious, a Cardiff-based video production company and made possible by donations from corporate sponsors.

Talking about the campaign, Wales Air Ambulance chief executive Angela Hughes said:

“Wil’s story is just one of many where our air ambulance crews have saved the lives of children across Wales. He was such a brave little boy and we thought his story was the best one to recreate for our advertising campaign as it is so relatable to parents everywhere and just brings home how vital our service is here in Wales.

“As the only dedicated ambulance serving Wales, we wanted to create a hard-hitting TV advert to raise awareness of the amazing things the flying doctors, paramedics and pilots do every day. The Children’s Wales Air Ambulance is a special division of our charity aimed with helping the needs of our youngest patients.

“Earlier this year, we introduced in partnership with NHS Wales state-of the-art incubators for vulnerable babies, meaning that we can bring the hospital to the patient. These incubators have been fitted into our fourth aircraft which means we can now reach more children, quicker with some of the best equipment available in the UK.”

To see the new TV adverts or to find out more about the Children’s Wales Air Ambulance, visit walesairambulance.com.

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