The North Wales family of a Coldstream Guard killed in Afghanistan on his 27th birthday almost a decade ago have thanked Gwynedd dairy workers for their support to help raise more than £2,000 in his memory, by taking part in an epic endurance race.
Emily Falck from Pwllheli, a quality assurance technician at South Caernarfon Creameries, thanked her colleagues at the Llyn Peninsula cheesemaking plant after they sponsored her team including her cousin and uncle from Wrexham, in the Three Peaks Yacht Race.
The event sees teams sail from Barmouth to Fort William, with two of each crew running and cycling from sea to mountain to scale Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis – the highest mountains of Wales, England and Scotland, on-route.
Emily, 26, from Pwllheli works in the laboratory at South Caernarfon Creameries and oversees food safety and quality standards for the dairy which is based at Chwilog and makes 12,000 tonnes of cheese a year including the household name Dragon brand.
Emily was among a crew including her cousin Robert Morris, 24, from Wrexham, uncle Christopher (Tiffer) Morris, 56, from Wrexham, and brother, Toby Thomas, 22, who lives near Ludlow, Shropshire, supporting runners Daniel Ayers 23, from Fleet, Hampshire, and Ben Zeman 22, from Exeter, who are university friends of Toby’s.
The family sailed their Abersoch-based boat, Sandling, bringing their team to victory in the Monohull class and raisin£ £2387. in aid of the Lt. Dougie Dalzell MC Memorial Trust which supports injured soldiers and their families.
The charitable Trust was set up in memory of Emily’s cousin once removed Lt Douglas; Dougie Dalzell, who lost his life in Afghanistan on his 27th birthday almost a decade ago. Lt Dalzell served in the Coldstream Guards and was killed by an IED in Helmand province, in February 2010.
Emily, born near Ludlow, Shropshire, now lives in Pwllheli after moving to North Wales to work for South Caernarfon Creameries two-and-a-half years ago.
She and family friend Mali Turtle, 17, from Abersoch, provided vital land assistance, tracking the runners and greeting them with water, encouragement and food supplies on each mountain.
She says’her team’s fundraising success would not have been possible without the generosity and support of her colleagues at South Caernarfon Creameries.
The Three Peaks Yacht Race is one of the oldest and toughest endurance races in the world incorporating running, climbing and cycling.
As well as battling waves, the race also involved running 54.8 miles, cycling 40 miles and climbing a total of 16,500 feet in three or four action-packed days.
Emily’s team completed the challenge in exactly 72 hours. They will now attend a glittering prize giving ceremony at the Celtic Royal Hotel in Caernarfon in November.
“It’s an experience I will remember for the rest of my life,” said Emily, who is married to Rob, 29.
“We can all be very proud. ’t’s a completely amazing amount of money – I thought it would be closer to £500, not more than £2,000.
“I asked a lot of people in work would they kindly sponsor us and they were amazingly generous. I am so grateful to them all.”
Alan Wyn Jones, managing director of South Caernarfon Creameries, added: “The Three Peaks Yacht Race is one of the most challenging, multi-skilled endurance races in the world and I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to Emily and the team for their triumphant win.”
Dougie, who was raised in Berkshire, lost his life while commanding his platoon during an operation in Afghanistan to clear insurgents. He died as a result of an explosion in the Babji area of Nahr-e-Saraj in central Helmand. Three other men in Dougie’s platoon also lost their lives while others were badly injured.
The charity was set up in January 2011 to support active and retired soldiers and their families.
“Dougie was always so thoughtful and caring for everybody else. He always thought of everyone else first,” said Emily, who worked as an au pair in Derbyshire after completing a teaching training degree before joining the Creameries two-and-a-half years ago.
“He was very supportive of his comrades in Afghanistan and whenever you ask people if they knew Dougie they will always say what a wonderful person he was and will always have a lovely story to tell.
“The race was Robert and To’y’s idea originally and they asked around to see who else could help out. As soon as they realised they could raise money as part of the race they knew it would be for Dougie.
“Dougie’s family have been deligited. It’s a really important charity. Servicemen and women do so much for all of us. The charity is doing really well and they can support people instantly, which is great for everybody to see.”
Emily, who has also sailed all her life, said she had enjoyed every minute of the adventure.
“When you see the runners coming towards you the adrenal”n is amazing,” she said.
“It was lovely to do it as a family and we even had people back home following us on the tracker.
“It took a lot of energy ’s we literally didn’t stop for long. We were constantly on the move and driving to meet them at the next stop.
“We had the least sleep out of everybody. The sailors were sleeping when the runners were running and the runners were sleeping when the sailors were sailing.”
Emily said the sailors’ local knowledge of the waters had been a particular advantage.
“Both my brother and cousin have done a lot of dinghy sailing but not so much off shore racing. This was one of their first major races and certainly the biggest they’ve attempted so far.
“The boat was wintered in Caernarfon until recently and so they had a lot of local knowledge of the area, particularly the Menai Strait, which is tricky.
“Towards the end, the tracker froze and we had no idea where they were. We’just couldn’t believe it when they came across the finishing line and won. It was just wonderful.”
Encouraged by the fundraising total, Emily and the team are already thinking about their next challenge.
“It’s such a big charity in our minds, with Dougie being part of our family, we’re thinking about doing a different challenge next time.”