Surprise as prince comes to rescue of injured climber
BARBARA Wilkins had a right royal surprise when she discovered the identity of one of her rescuers after injuring her foot while climbing Mt Snowdon.
Mrs Wilkins, 72, was left in agony and unable to walk when she trapped a nerve in her foot on Wales' largest mountain.
After her companions called the emergency services from a cafe halfway down from the 3,560ft summit, she was airlifted off the mountain by a helicopter rescue team.
It was only when she was back firmly on the ground that she was informed that the helicopter pilot was none other than Prince William. "I was so surprised, I had no idea it was him because he had a visor covering his face the whole time," said Barbara, who had been visiting Wales with her husband Jeffrey, 74, two cousins from Canada and a couple of friends from Minchinhampton.
"To begin with, one of the rescuers called Dickie came down from the helicopter to check everything was okay with me," she said.
"My husband was strapped up first and winched into the helicopter and then the winch came back down and I went up with Dickie.
"We were both put into our seats and strapped in so we knew someone was flying the helicopter but we couldn't see who it was because he was wearing a visor and uniform.
"It could have been the Queen for all we knew. It was only when we got off the helicopter that a crew member told us who it was."
The dramatic rescue took place on August 31 - the day before the party was due to leave the small village of Llanberis, where they had been staying. In hindsight, Barbara said she thought she may have been a little 'optimistic' in trying to scale the mountain. "None of us had ever been up Snowdon before so we all wanted to do it. We got a train up to the top but it was more difficult coming down than I had expected," she said.
"Although I feel a bit stupid I wanted to share my story because Llanberis Mountain Rescue do such a good job helping ordinary people, including two old codgers who thought they knew better.
"We have already sent them a donation and we hope that others will donate too."