Rae Lonsdale with his MBE

Rae Lonsdale with his MBE

A retired national park stalwart and long-time rescue team member has received his MBE from the Queen.

Rae Lonsdale of Settle in North Yorkshire said he has had to put up with good-humoured ribbing but also received compliments from friends and colleagues after his appointment.

The 64-year-old is a member of the Cave Rescue Organisation, which goes to the aid of both potholers and fellwalkers in the Yorkshire Dales, and retired last year from the national park authority.

He received his medal for voluntary service in North Yorkshire in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

He said: “The past few weeks have been a bit unreal.

“There has been the good-natured leg-pulling and curtseying from some of my more comical acquaintances, but also the congratulations from many people, to say nothing of the anticipation and reality of the visit to Buckingham Palace.

“When Her Majesty said ‘You seem to have done a lot’, I just said that I hadn’t done anything I hadn’t enjoyed.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have had an encouraging employer and some very enthusiastic and capable colleagues, both voluntary and paid.”

Mr Lonsdale began volunteering for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority in 1967, before taking a paid ranger post with Lancashire County Council in 1973, then moving to the Dales in 1975.

He had a succession of jobs with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority concluding with the role of volunteers coordinator from 1999 until early retirement last year.

He was also on the Yorkshire Dales Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Panel from 1976 to 1979 and qualified as an accredited assessor in 1996.

He worked to raise the profile of the John Muir Trust and its Award in the Yorkshire Dales and has been instrumental in running the Award with the YDNPA’s ranger service in conjunction with local schools and has linked this to a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award conservation residential that is run for a week every August.

“Receiving the MBE has certainly given me something to live up to,” he said.

“It’s a beautiful area that I have lived and worked in and I want to use my active retirement to encourage and enable young people – whether local or from farther away – to appreciate what’s special about the Dales, then to get stuck in and enjoy caring for them.

“Everyone should have the opportunity and the John Muir Award offers that opportunity.”

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