The High Sheriff of North Yorkshire, Alexandra Holbrook, joins UWFRA surface leader Phil Nelson and chairman Ian Hook

The High Sheriff of North Yorkshire, Alexandra Holbrook, joins UWFRA surface leader Phil Nelson and chairman Ian Hook

The Queen’s law representative praised the work of a volunteer rescue team during a visit to the organisation’s headquarters.

The High Sheriff of North Yorkshire dropped in on Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association to see their work at first hand.

Alexandra Holford, holder of the ancient title, had hoped to go abseiling with the volunteer rescuers, but wintry weather meant the cancellation of the activity.

High Sheriffs are the Crown’s ceremonial representatives in England and Wales’s counties, with a responsibility for supporting emergency services, voluntary groups and crime prevention.

Mrs Holford, who holds the office for a year, spoke to members of the UWFRA at their Grassington base. The team carries out rescues both on the fells of the Yorkshire Dales and in its caves and potholes.

She was shown the team’s latest high-tech gear and its new incident control vehicle – the fruit of more than four years’ fundraising.

Chairman Ian Hook, who led the tour of the base, said: ”The High Sheriff had sent a request to be taken abseiling but with the wintry conditions we decided against this. We had also hoped to have an actual callout during her visit and the adverse weather conditions made this very likely but it just didn’t happen.

“We did put on a good show for her and she said how fascinated it had been to meet the team and to hear about some of our rescues.”

Mrs Holbrook had a full day with the team including a trip out in a rescue Land Rover and also walked to some of the rescue locations around the area.

The High Sheriff, centre, joins team members at their base

The High Sheriff, centre, joins team members at their base

She said: ”I have had a fabulous day learning about the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Organisation.

“They are a great team providing a terrific service to a wide range of individuals. Their work can be a relatively simple task of helping someone who has sprained an ankle walking in the Dales or a major long-duration operation involving perhaps 70 members to extract a seriously injured potholer who has life threatening injuries and somehow has to be extricated from a dangerous and waterlogged caving system.

“They are unpaid, raise every penny themselves and are totally dedicated to helping anyone in difficulties – a great public service that deserves all our support and particularly from those who use the magnificent outdoor facilities of North Yorkshire.”

The office of High Sheriff is an independent non-political Royal appointment lasting a year.

Its origins date back to Saxon times, when the Shire Reeve was responsible to the king for the maintenance of law and order within the shire, or county, and for the collection and return of taxes due to the Crown.

Today, there are 55 High Sheriffs serving the counties of England and Wales each year. The post is unpaid and appointees have to bear the cost of holding the office during their year in service.

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