A COLWYN Bay civil engineering company has organised a day at the zoo for disabled and disadvantaged North Wales children after completing a challenging fundraiser.

Llysfaen-based MWT Engineering, along with the Happy Faces Children’s Charity in Rhos-on-Sea, have planned a fun-filled day at the Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay on Thursday, September 23, which they are hoping to take up to 400 children to.

The date for the trip was announced last week, following a team from MWT raising more than £3,500 for the cause by walking, cycling and canoeing across Snowdon on Saturday, July 31.

Mike Thomas, owner of MWT, hopes the day will not only put a smile on youngsters’ faces after the COVID-19 pandemic, but will also prove hugely beneficial for the zoo, which coronavirus has left in one of its worst financial states since opening in 1963.

He said: “We fancied doing something for local causes and thought that would be a good one, because we’re helping to get these kids to the zoo, which they might not have been able to do in the last year with COVID. But it also helps the zoo out as well.

“We spoke to the zoo about when they traditionally get a bit quieter, so taking between 300 and 400 kids there, plus carers, would be a boost for them as well.

“I contacted Ray Herbert from Happy Faces because, over the years, they’ve donated about 13 minibuses to various special schools, so I thought it would be good for them to get involved and help me with the logistics of getting the kids there.

“We’ve decided to do it through them, and on the day we’re also going to try and be present with a few of the staff who were part of the team on the Snowdonia challenge."

The fundraiser itself saw the MWT team of seven firstly cycle 20 miles from Llanberis to the bottom of the Rhyd-Ddu Path in Snowdon, before walking to the summit.

They then rode another ten miles to Llyn Gwynant, where they took to rafted canoes (assisted by an eighth team member) to cross the lake, before getting back on their bikes and cycling to the top of Pen-y-Pass before the long downhill slop back to the Llanberis finish line.

North Wales Pioneer: The MWT team starting off the canoe challenge at Llyn Gwynant. Photo: Lauren ThomasThe MWT team starting off the canoe challenge at Llyn Gwynant. Photo: Lauren Thomas

Mike, whose daughter Lauren was also on hand as photographer, trained hard for the event with his team, and he added that it was a challenging but worthwhile day which also did wonders for team spirit among his group.

He said: “It’s something that we’re hoping to do every year now. We did it this year as an in-house thing but next year, we’re hoping to do a very similar event where we challenge other local businesses to do it with us.

“Everyone’s been a little bit down, not being able to do much, and doing this with my lads and going out on training days has just been great for in-house morale and teamwork. I couldn’t think of a better thing to do.

“It was a team effort and we all had a barbecue at the end of the day, though they decided to throw me in the lake which I wasn’t too chuffed about!

“We all agreed the canoeing across Llyn Gwynant was surprisingly hard because it was the one thing we hadn’t been able to train for. Starting off in the rain was tough – we set off at 6am, which meant we were in our yard at 4.30am getting the bikes together, and it was pouring with rain.

“One guy who works for a subcontractor of ours came along and he’s Type 1 diabetic. We were all worried he would struggle. He was the guy we all gave the most motivation to. I think that helped everybody because he did struggle at times, but he did it under his own steam.

“But that just helped the team spirit; there was no way any of us were going to fail. The team comradeship that we had on the day just kept everybody going, even in the bad weather.”

As well as members of the MWT team, ITV News will be present at the zoo on September 23, where children will also be given a range of goodies, including free ice cream.

Disabled and disadvantaged children from across North Wales will be invited, with Mike adding: “The idea is that we try to offer it up to as many regions in North Wales as we can, so we can truly say that we’re trying to get kids from across North Wales to come along, not just from one school.”