Introducing OVMRO …Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 10.28.58

Kicking off with a dedicated fund-raising day on National Fudge Day (16th June – surely it’s in the diary!), Fudge Kitchen is very pleased to introduce our 2018 chosen charity, OVMRO: the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation in North Wales.

Founded in 1965, OVMRO is one of the busiest mountain rescue teams in the UK, covering a 480km sq operational area and receiving around 130 calls per year. Their expertise and knowledge of the area is also often called on by the Ambulance service when their casualties are on country footpaths or inaccessible places, by the Fire Service in times of flooding; and by the Police, to assist people who are lost, stuck or injured on the mountains or in the rivers of Snowdonia, and with body recoveries from remote locations.

Bleatin’ Help …

It’s not always so dramatic or grizzly, however, as OVMRO press officer Chris Lloyd explains: “The call-outs vary. We are frequently called for reports of shouts for ‘Help’ on Tryfan. We know that these are most likely to be goats. I always advise people that if they do hear shouts, then shout back and ask what assistance is required. A goat will continue to bleat ‘Help’!OVMRO

The OVMRO team comprises around 50 unpaid volunteers, ranging in age from 25 –75, each given specialist training and equipment. All of which is expensive. There is then the maintenance and insuring of their base and three specialist vehicles … all on a mere £75,000 funding per year, most of which comes from voluntary contributions from members of the public and those who have been assisted by the Mountain Rescue Team.

Which is one of the reasons that Fudge Kitchen has chosen to support them as their annual charity. The other reason is one Andy McCluskey – brother of Ian, our Bath shop manager. But that’s not his only claim to fame …

A 200ft trip …

In October 2001, Andy and his university friend Ant were walking and camping around a collection of four mountains known as the Ideal Cirque, when tragedy struck …

“I have no memory of the incident due to the brain injury,” Andy explains,“but I’ve been told we were trying to follow the top of the ridge, found a point we couldn’t pass so turned round. I lost my balance and fell … a bit like tripping over the kerb, but with a more significant consequence.”

“Rotas whizzing past the rocks” …

Andy McCluskey's epic fall

Andy McCluskey’s epic fall

Andy bounced down 200ft of mountain, in fact, tearing his face apart and knocking himself out. He had stopped breathing when a heroic passing walker, David Armitage, reached him and administered life-saving mouth to nose resuscitation. Other walkers alerted OVMRO, who came out with an RAF Sea King helicopter to winch Andy up on a stretcher and off to Ysbyty Gwynedd Hospital, in a rescue that was itself fraught with danger.

“I could see the rotas whizzing past the rocks,“ says Chris Cooksey, a university lecturer who moonlights as an OVMRO volunteer. ”Because of the height of the cliff, it was a long winch of a couple of hundred feet and I was spinning wildly [as he was lowered down]”.

“I’m told that whilst waiting for the chopper”, says Andy, “we continued to slide down a scree slope towards another [20m] drop. Another climber apparently arrived to stabilise us on the slope.” In fact, he had scaled a near vertical wall to support Andrew, in a critical scene awash with bravery.

“As a consequence of my brain injury I have no memory of months before and after this event,” Andy continues, ”and so all this has been put together by what I have been told by other people.” It was also put together in a re-enactment by BBC One’s Life Savers, so epic was the rescue.

‘I owe my life to OVMRO’ …

The OVMRO team with the type of helicopter used in Andy's rescue

The OVMRO team with the type of helicopter used in Andy’s rescue

“Naturally I owe an awful lot to OVMRO,” reflects Andy. “Without them, I expect I would have died on that ledge; and they rely to a great extent on charitable donations to get the equipment, radios and access to helicopters (which I think is crazy). Without the chopper to get me to Ysbyty Gwynedd, the outcome would have been markedly different. Having met quite a few of the guys who work in Mountain Rescue (Ogwen and wider), the risks they take to protect others, as volunteers, is astounding and something that I think needs more recognition.”

National Fudge Day supporting OVMRO …

Limited edition, hand made Bara Brith fudge based on the traditional Welsh tea cake

Limited edition, hand made Bara Brith fudge based on the traditional Welsh tea cake

Indeed it does, so do support us over the forthcoming year, particularly on National Fudge Day, on Saturday 16thJune; when all seven Fudge Kitchen shops and the online store will be selling a limited edition Bara Brith flavour fudge – to celebrate the Welsh connection – and £10 will be donated from every batch of fudge made on the day.

So the more you buy, the more we have to make and the more OVMRO will receive.  Everyone’s a winner. Especially Andy.

Read more about the incredible work of OVMRO and opportunities to donate here.