Prince William: rescuers' work saves countless lives

Prince William: rescuers' work saves countless lives

The first ever awareness day for mountain rescuers has the royal seal of approval.

Prince William added his support for the May Day events happening across England and Wales in a bid to bring the work of the volunteer mountain and cave rescue teams to the attention of the public.

Teams will stage demonstrations of their work, mount exhibitions and hold collections on the coming bank holiday Monday.

And the prince, second in line to the throne and patron of Mountain Rescue England & Wales, praised the men and women who turn out every week of the year to help those in need. “Mountain rescue do the most brave and tremendous job imaginable,” he said.  “Whether it is high-profile moments like Cockermouth, or just helping an injured walker off a mountain on a bank holiday, mountain rescue’s work saves countless lives.

“No-one should take mountain rescue for granted; all the teams are voluntary and they deserve every bit of support they can get.”

The prince is currently training to be a helicopter pilot at RAF Valley on Anglesey and, if he completes his course successfully, will co-pilot the familiar yellow Sea Kings that support mountain rescue teams.

Support came too from hillwalking celebrity Julia Bradbury, presenter of the

Julia Bradbury, patron of Sarda

Julia Bradbury, patron of Sarda

Wainwright’s Walks series and regular frontwoman on the BBC’s Countryfile. Ms Bradbury said: “I am a patron of Sarda, the national Search and Rescue Dogs Association.

“I’ve been hill walking for many years now and I’ve managed to avoid accidents but it’s comforting to know that, if things do go wrong, a local mountain rescue team is always ready to help.”

Teams will take part in a variety of events over the bank holiday weekend to raise public awareness of the breadth of the MRTs’ work, from the familiar mountain and hillwalking rescues to swiftwater rescue, police searches and civil emergency support such as that needed during the 2009 Cumbrian floods and the severe winter conditions, when standard ambulances, for instance, could not reach casualties.

David Allan, chairman of Mountain Rescue England & Wales, is one of those coordinating the plans. He said: “The aim is to provide a focus for local teams – all volunteers – to organise events and fundraising in their own areas under a common banner.

Helping walkers, climbers and mountaineers is only part of the teams work

Helping walkers, climbers and mountaineers is only part of the teams' work

“From Dartmoor to Cockermouth, Snowdonia to North Yorkshire, teams are opening up their bases to visitors, abseiling down local beauty spots for funds and putting up displays at all sorts of weird and wonderful locations.

“We’re hoping that the day will give the public an opportunity to find out about the broad range of skills that these teams of volunteers offer, their commitment to training and service and the local need for funds and support.”

Mike Park, team leader of Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team, said: “We have had tremendous support ever since the public realised just how involved we were in the flood rescues back in November 2009.

“But it shouldn’t take a major incident or a personal experience to make people aware of us and I hope that events across the country on 3 May will encourage people to support and appreciate their local teams.”

There are 53 mountain and cave rescue teams operating across the country. The mountain and cave rescue service in England and Wales is provided by about 3,500 volunteers, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, whatever the weather.

The teams provided expertise and manpower during civil emergencies such as the Grayrigg train crash and the Lockerbie disaster; assisted the fire service with moorland fires in Yorkshire and the Lake District; helped rescue people from their own homes during extensive flooding in Gloucestershire, Cumbria and South Yorkshire; and searched snowbound roads for stranded motorists. The teams have also searched for forensic evidence and helped preserve the scenes of crime.

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