Woodhead MRT's Pith Helmets strecher display team. Photo: Gordon Gibbons

Woodhead MRT's Pith Helmets strecher display team. Photo: Gordon Gibbons

You’ve heard of the Red Arrows and the Falcons parachute display team; now meet: the Pith Helmets.

The Woodhead Mountain Rescue Formation Stretcher Display Team will make its first public appearance this weekend as it thrills crowds at a Yorkshire show.

The team is the brainchild of the rescuers’ fundraising officer and is a light-hearted way of getting across the rescue team’s skills to the public.

Dubbed by members the Pith Helmets, the formation team will perform at the Honley Show, close to the team’s base just outside the Peak District. The nickname is a nod to the renowned Royal Signals Corps motorcycle display team the White Helmets.

Display team member and Woodhead Mountain Rescue Team vice-chairman Pete Stott said: “We don’t want to give too much away but we are a cross between the Red Arrows and the White Helmets, but without motorbikes or aeroplanes, hence the nickname.

“Mountain rescue is a serious business and to let our hair down but also entertain, and at the same time raising awareness, is too good an opportunity to miss.”

Another member of the display team is trainee rescuer Lesley Gill. The chartered surveyor, who has been with the rescuers eight months, said: “It’s great fun and a wonderful workout. We move quickly with the stretchers each of which weighs in at around 30kg and the routine lasts about 15 minutes. We are tired at the end of it.”

Team leader Keith Wakeley added: “When the guys told me their idea I supported it 100 per cent.

“This is something totally new, funny and entertaining with a little drama and theatre thrown in for good measure.

“The routine will see the display team perform various manoeuvres to music, and have one or two surprises in store for the crowd. My favourite is the historic flight; I can’t say anymore without spoiling it but it had me in stitches.

“Although light-hearted it has taken many hours of practice and demonstrates the level of commitment, discipline, strength, stamina and teamwork required at the sharp end of modern mountain rescue teams.”

The Honley Show, in the village south of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, takes place on Saturday 11 June.

The Woodhead MRT covers the Peak District’s second-highest peak Bleaklow and the north-east corner of the Peak District, along with part of the hills and moors of the South Pennines in South and West Yorkshire.

Previous displays by the team at the Honley Show have consisted of simulated casualty rescues and a demonstration of the team’s two search-and-rescue dog handlers’ skills.

The pith helmet, or topee, is a lightweight safari helmet made of either cork or pith, the favourite headgear of the late Don Estelle’s character Lofty Sugden in the 1970s comedy series It Ain’t Half Hot Mum.

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