Volunteer mountain rescuers across the UK have been awarded medals to mark their service.
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal was presented to members of the armed forces and emergency services to mark the monarch’s 60 years on the throne.
The medal is for those having made an honourable service in military, police, prison, and emergency forces, or for outstanding achievement or public service and all members of mountain rescue teams with five years’ or more service were eligible.
Ceremonies took place at various venues.
Members of the Woodhead Mountain Rescue Team received their medals from the Lord Lieutenant of South Yorkshire David Moody at the team’s base at Hepworth near Huddersfield in a ceremony also attended by Stocksbridge and Penistone MP Angela Smith, Chief Superintendent Andy Brooke of South Yorkshire Police and the mayor of Penistone Harry Barron.
The total length of service of the 19 team members receiving the medal was more than 500 years; two each had 48 years’ service each.
One of those, founding member and chairman Barry Gregory, said: “It was a very proud moment for us all.
“We don’t join mountain rescue to be rewarded as we do it to help people and that is rewarding enough; however, it is nice to be recognised for the work we do in the community.”
MP Ms Smith said: “Woodhead Mountain Rescue Team wholeheartedly deserves these medals for the amazing work they do rescuing people, in all weathers and mostly during the darkest hours of the day.
“And to think they do it as volunteers, with absolutely no funding, is truly wonderful and a medal is the least they deserve.”
Wales’s First Minister Carwyn Jones joined teams from south Wales for their presentations at the headquarters of the Western Beacons Mountain Search and Rescue Team. Members of the Central Beacons MRT, Brecon MRT, South & Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team and the South Wales Search & Rescue Association also received jubilee medals.
The First Minister said: “These medals are in recognition of those who dedicate themselves to public service and the work carried out by these rescue teams certainly deserves to be recognised.
“They provide vital support to our emergency services to find and recover the lost and injured across the whole of south and mid-Wales. They are volunteers who are totally self-funded and these medals are a way for all of us to show our appreciation for what they do.”
Nick Hardwidge from the Western Beacons Mountain Search and Rescue Team said: “As members of a voluntary rescue team, individuals are normally reticent to advertise what we do; but we are honoured to receive these medals from Her Majesty the Queen and furthermore very pleased that the First Minister has recognised the valuable support we provide the police and ambulance services and has agreed to present some of the team with their medals.”
The Central Beacons team also had a visit from their MP Dai Havard. A spokesperson said: “Dai made a very powerful speech about the purpose of the medal, why it is so important that mountain rescue is recognised for its contribution to the community and the massive support the volunteers get from their families to turn out on rescues.
Huw Jones one of the incident commanders with more than 30 years’ service added: “It is so important the community recognise not only the level of professionalism the volunteers but also the fabulous support our families give us to undertake this work.”
In the Scottish Borders, 31 members of two teams were presented by Lothian and Borders Police chief constable David Strang.
Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team members and colleagues from Borders Search & Rescue Unit received their medals at a ceremony at the Scottish Borders Council Chambers.
Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team leader Steve Penny paid tribute to the dedication of his colleagues.
“Since the birth of a mountain rescue team in the borders in 1963, many hundreds of Borders volunteers have contributed many thousands of hours helping the police and those in need in our hill, rural and sometimes urban areas,” he said. “It is a remarkable achievement and show of commitment that the 21 current TVMRT members that will receive the medal to recognise more than five years’ service have accumulated 315 years of service between them, with the longest having 36 years to his credit.”
BSARU team leader Seymour Haugh said: “It can be a thankless task. Our members go out in all weathers.
“Often the casualties we attend occur as a direct result of inclement weather, so we certainly see our fair share of it. Service is completely voluntary, and team-members must be prepared to turn out at the drop of a hat.
“Many members have an arrangement with their employer that enables them to find cover quickly when needed – and many thanks to those employers.
“Others, particularly the self-employed, stand to lose a day’s pay each time they turn out for a prolonged search. The fact that the majority of those being honoured today have served for more than a decade displays a remarkable level of dedication, and it’s gratifying to have this dedication acknowledged with today’s presentation.”
Allan McGee, TVMRT’s Longest Serving Member reflected on his 36 years’ service. He said: “It’s a great honour to be awarded this medal in recognition of the voluntary time each team member commits to making TVMRT the high trained team that we are today.
“Since joining the Team in 1976, the team has changed significantly in the way it operates and trains. Despite these changes the team remains fully comprised of voluntary members and each year our members give countless hours to train, attend rescues and fundraise.”
Kendal’s mayor Councillor John Willshaw presented the Cumbrian team with their medals at the Hawkshead Brewery in Staveley.
He told them: “As mayor of Kendal I would like to thank all of you for the duties that you perform as members of the Kendal Mountain Rescue Team.
“I am amazed at the amount of voluntary time you all put in, not only the hillwalking team but your amazing support team as well.
“I don’t think it is realised by the vast majority of members of the public that not only do you assist those in trouble on the hills and fells but also those people in danger from fast flowing rivers. When bad weather strikes be it heavy rain, wind or snow you become used as one of our emergency services.
“I congratulate you all, and I am honoured to be asked to present these awards to you.”