Fundraiser for Sheffield Helipad

All proceeds from this event will go directly to the Helipad Appeal to fund a new landing pad next to the Accident and Emergency Department at the Northern General Hospital.

“On Saturday March 12th,”

Wild Country will present A Brief History of Friends, at the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (ShAFF). After a short film screening there will be a a Q&A with Mark Vallance introduced by Climbing writer Niall Grimes.

Mark founded Wild Country in 1977 to bring the revolutionary climbing protection device, the Friend, to market. Nearly forty years on, the Friend has become an essential tool for traditional climbing - where climbers scale rock faces placing pieces of equipment as they scale the rock. It transformed climbing safety and opened up new possibilities in the sport, emboldening climbers to try daring new routes on rock faces which previously would have potentially had fatal consequences.

All proceeds from this event will go directly to the Helipad Appeal to fund a new landing pad next to the Accident and Emergency Department at the Northern General Hospital. Funds will also be raised from the suggested £1 donation with every ShAFF ticket sold.

Festival Director Matt Heason said:

“‘This is the third year that ShAFF has

supported Sheffield Hospitals Charity and

we are delighted that Wild Country is

joining us to help raise funds for the

Helipad Appeal.”

With a third of Sheffield’s boundary within the Peak District, the city is a magnet for adventure sports athletes, but the reality is that accidents happen and the rapid response that a helicopter ambulance would offer could be potentially life-saving. As a community of climbers, runners and bikers we would all benefit from this and as a community based festival, ShAFF and Wild Country are proud to support this appeal.’

Wild Country, Marketing Director Steve Foster said: Wild Country is proud to support this appeal which will benefit every outdoor enthusiast who visits the Peak District. We are aware that the Air Ambulance service exists but don’t really appreciate it until it touches us personally. Without the rescue teams, the Air Ambulance and the Trauma Team at NGH Dionne’s situation could have been a lot worse. Everyone at Wild Country was deeply affected by the accident and very grateful to all those involved in the rescue and her medical care.

David Reynolds, Director of Sheffield Hospitals Charity said: “I’m very grateful that ShAFF and Wild Country are backing our Helipad Appeal. I hope that their support will encourage people attending the festival to make a donation as we are so close to reaching our final target. Having access to a new helipad facility is vital for everyone living in Sheffield and the surrounding area. Any one of us could be involved in an accident or medical emergency and in those moments we’d all give anything for the best medical attention possible as quickly as possible.”

In September 2014, One of our staff members Dionne Davis experienced firsthand the importance of an airlift rescue, when she fell from approximately 35ft on Stanage Edge.

Dionne’s account of what happened that day:

‘After I started coming round to understanding what had happened the mountain rescue teams were fully on top of the situation and had everything in control. I could hear the propeller of the helicopter getting closer. All the climbers that were in the area that day came together to help form a human chain and started passing me down in the stretcher to the helicopter. Luckily my injuries weren't life threatening, but had they been, the air ambulance could have saved my life. I can't thank the air ambulance, mountain rescue, all the staff at the hospital and fellow climbers enough for everything they did that day.’

The Helipad Appeal was launched in October 2014 to raise £2 million to build a new helipad at the Northern General Hospital, there is still £198,000 left to be raised to reach the appeal target of £2 million. The new helipad will mean that patients requiring life-saving treatment can be transferred to the Accident and Emergency Department within seconds of landing, saving valuable time, as every second is crucial when dealing with major trauma injuries.

Dr Stuart Reid, Consultant in Emergency Medicine and Clinical Lead for Major Trauma at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals said: “As one of 26 Major Trauma Centres in the country, we receive patients from a large geographical area including South Yorkshire and the Peak District in North Derbyshire. Having a new helipad seconds from our door means we can start working on the patients sooner, which could make all the difference as every second really can count.”

“When someone suffers major trauma which involves multiple or serious injury, the speed with which they can get specialist medical help can be the difference between life and death, and that’s why this appeal is so important.”

For more details visit

For ShAFF and Wild Country press enquiries please contact: Jenny Brown on 07779281114 or [email protected] or visit

For Sheffield Hospitals Charity contact Sarah Stables on 0114 271 1355 [email protected].



“Why did James and I pick a small dot on the other side of the planet?”

Because Yuji told us about it. The last time Yuji proposed us a trip, we ended up in Kinabalu, the now oh so famous mountain where untouched granite will overwhelm the climber. The Real Rock tour has thrown Kinabalu into fame, but 5 years ago, when we went there, no climber could even put it on the climbing

Kinkasan is a small island not far from Fukushima, on the north east side of Japan. It has 26km circumference and is inhabited by two monks. From Tokyo it is a six hour journey. Yuji didn’t say that much more: Kinkasan’s coast is covered with granite cliffs, and there is a Shinto shrine on it. Yuji mentioned as well the damages made by the tsunami…

We began our journey with next to no expectations about the climbing, and a big question mark for the rest. 3 days in the trip and I know exactly why we came: for Japan. 

2 years ago we spent a week in this unique country and both James and I knew that we had to come back one day: how could I compare it? Well, the first time you taste wine, you have heard a lot about it. But you smell, and you only smell the alcohol, you taste and you can’t put words on it because wine is subtle, complicated and requests an education. You have to go back to it, learn to enjoy, differentiate and remember. Japan is maybe a little bit like wine.

There is this astonishing mix of modernity (the Japanese toilets and their multi jets, music and self cleaning options give you an idea of the immensity of your difference)  and spirituality, respect, focus.

We arrived at Base Camp, the gym that Yuji opened 5 years ago in Tokyo, and I oscillate between marvel and shame. I am a pro climber, and most of the boulders are too hard for me, the Japanese climbers around me seem to evolve so effortlessly, like flying cats on the wall. But then you realise: the world championship have just finished in Paris and in the bouldering competition, 3 of the 6 medals are not only Japanese, but from Tokyo, from Base Camp. Yuji and his company helps the athletes become professional and they often climb together. Shall I repeat that? Half of the world’s medals come from one gym! Surely there is no wonder that Yuji owns that gym… But that is only just the very top of the iceberg, because behind this 3 medals, there are a lot of other athletes with an incredible level. I have never seen so many good, extremely good boulderers in one place. And I am a former competition climber, trust me, I know what I am talking about.

“Why are they so good?”

The answer is surely complicated but here are a few elements: climbing has become very trendy in Japan, with over a 100 gyms in Tokyo. The Japanese body type is perfect for climbing; light, powerful and explosive muscles. The Japanese constant pursuit of perfection pushes the athletes to train hard, just like everyone around them simply accomplished every task with perfection.

It was dry for the crossing, and after unpacking our bags at the shrine we bouldered on a nearby beach for 1 hour before the rain came. With so much rock to see and so little time, we hiked out anyway along the coast to search out potential lines. The rain became heavier, we became wetter, and after 4 soggy hours we returned to the shrine, hopes high but spirits low. We’d been preparing this trip since September 2015, putting the team together, finding funding from sponsors, organizing the local logistics, yet it would all be in vain if the weather didn’t brighten up.

A morning of rain gave us the excuse to sit down and record some interviews, though truthfully we had little to say as we’d done little climbing. Toru, ever the silent optimist finally dragged me out to the closest boulder spot during a break between two showers, and we were surprisingly able to climb! Toru lived up to his reputation of boldness and brilliance, making the first ascents of two of Kinkasan’s boldest and hardest problems. Finally things were looking up. The forecast was good for the following days, and group psyche could not have been higher. We began to plan our upcoming adventure and our first trip to the other side of the island – the area with the highest concentration of rock, and the biggest cliffs, but had to cut them short as bad news broke.

With my thirst for climbing temporarily quenched, we left the island in limbo, happy, yet sad, but knowing we’d be back in less than 24 hours. We passed the day visiting some of the worst tsunami affected towns in an effort to better understand what hardships the local people had to live through, and how they are moving forwards towards the future. It is one thing to watch the news from the comfort of your lounge back home, it is another thing entirely to see it first hand, and speak to the people who have lost everything - houses, possessions, loved ones!

Suddenly our troubles with the rain seemed embarrassingly small, and we remembered why we were actually here in the first place.

Our personal climbing desires must come second to the larger goal of showing this place to the world. Rain or shine, we have to get out there. Hike around, document the potential, and if in the end we are lucky, open up some new routes.