One of North Wales’s best known businessmen will be thrown in at the deep end to raise cash for a charity supporting children with cancer.
Property specialist Dafydd Hardy will be taking the plunge during the All Wales Boat Show in Conwy later this month.
He has agreed to jump into the depths of Conwy Quay Marina, where the show will be staged from May 30 to June 1, before being rescued by two huge Newfoundland dogs – known as the St Bernards of the Sea due to their life-saving prowess. SUPPORT DAFYDD
And 61-year-old Dafydd, who runs a chain of estate agents across the region is aiming to raise at least £500 in sponsorship from his watery ordeal for Gafael Llaw – in English Holding Hands – a charity which helps children with cancer and their families from across North Wales.
Organisers are promising this year’s All Wales Boat Show, which will be officially opened by the Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Ken Skates AM, will be have even more glitz this year.
One of the main attractions will be appearances on each of its three days by Newfound Friends, a team of massive Newfoundland dogs specially trained to perform tricky waterborne rescues.
The dogs and their handlers have raised over £1 million for various children’s charities over the past 25 years and this will be their eagerly anticipated North Wales debut.
Working alongside skilled lifeguards who are also part of the team, the dogs, weighing an average of 13 stone, are trained to tow people struggling in the water safely back to dry land.
Helping them demonstrate their amazing abilities at the All Wales Boat Show will be Dafydd Hardy, who is a director of a network of chartered surveyors and estate agents with offices in Bangor, Caernarfon and Anglesey.
He said: “I’ve agreed to be thrown into the waters of the marina during the show and then be saved by two huge Newfoundland dogs.
“I’m told they have been specially trained in waterborne rescue techniques – and I’m just hoping that’s true!
“I’m quite looking forward to doing it but I have to admit that it’s with some trepidation.
“I’ll be wearing a special dry suit and I’m not too bad a swimmer. I also go to the gym quite regularly and keep a decent level of fitness so that should help.”
Dafydd added: “During the rescue I’ll be thinking what a fantastic charity I’m raising money for and hope I can eventually hand over at least £500 to them.
“Gafael Llaw was set up quite recently by a group of members at Caernarfon Rugby Club specifically to support children with cancer and their families.
“Because Waterside Properties has an office in Caernarfon we have struck up a close relationship with the charity and I know what a fantastic job it does supporting the Dewi Ward at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool, where children with cancer from North Wales have to go for treatment, and the cancer charity Clic Sargent.”
David Pugh, founder of Somerset-based Newfound Friends, said: “The All Wales Boat Show will be the first time we’ve been to North Wales and we’re really looking forward to appearing there.
“We’ll be bringing about a dozen dogs with us along with the same number of lifeguards, who they work with for safety reasons.
“The Newfoundlands are known as the St Bernards of the Sea or four-legged lifeguards because of their ability to perform amazing waterborne rescues.
“The animals weigh an average of 13 stones and are perfectly suited to it because they are immensely strong, webbed feet and have an oily coat which works like a wetsuit to keep out the water.
“They are trained to swim out to people in trouble with a lifeguard. Rescuees are then towed by the dogs back to shore by a rope attached to their safety harness or a torpedo float.
“Their safety demonstrations are extremely popular with people wherever we go and over the years we’ve managed to raise over £1 million for various children’s charities.”
Carl Russell Owen, a trustee of the charity Gafael Llaw, said: “We are very grateful to Dafydd Hardy for agreeing to take part in the rescue and raise much-needed funds for us.
“We appreciate all the help we can get and Dafydd has raised money for us on a number of occasions already by organizing events such as auctions on our behalf.
“We aim to help young people from newborns to secondary school age from right across North Wales and we have already financed two small cancer treatment units at the Dewi Ward at Ysbyty Gwynedd.
“I wish Dafydd the best of luck with his dog rescue and also to the All Wales Boat Show, which is a great event.”
Davina Carey-Evans, of show organisers Sbarc, said: “I’m delighted that Dafydd has agreed to be the subject of the rescue by Newfound Friends and that he’s raising money for Gafael Llaw is such a great cause. Everyone on the show team wishes him the best of luck.”
She added: “We’ve got some new sports coming on board this year, including wind surfing and wakeboarding. We’ve even got an indoor challenge with a sailing simulator and there will also be a boat jumble where people will be able to buy parts for their boats.
“Things are coming together extremely well and it promises to be a fantastic event which will provide a foundation for building on the potential of the marine sector in creating wealth and employment.”
The rescue dogs will be among the many crowd-pullers over the three days of the All Wales Boat Show.
A range of craft will be showcased against the stunning backcloth of the Conwy estuary and Snowdonia mountains.
Boats and marine equipment will be for sale, while other attractions lined up include a sailing simulator, boat handling demonstrations, wakeboarding and water sports, Conwy harbour cruises, marine careers information, yachting taster sessions, arts and crafts exhibitions and a tempting menu of refreshing food and drink.
In addition, two other luxury motorboat makers, Fairline Wales and Robalo, will also be dipping their toe in the water this year, along with high end sailboats from Hanse and Dufour.
Meanwhile, there will be luxury cars from Rolls Royce, Bentley and McLaren and even a helicopter.
At the other end of the spectrum, there will be flyboarding, coracles and bath-tub racing.
The show is being billed as a Celebration of Welsh Coast Life and the aim is to tap into the huge potential of the marine leisure industry which already pumps around £200 million into the Welsh economy every year.
A study following the inaugural All-Wales Boat Show last year revealed £1 million of regional business had been done as a result of the event – including £620,000 in boat sales.
The 2014 event will be held over three days instead of five and will be staged on a single site on the Conwy side of the estuary instead of being split over two locations.