Team members and their ambulance in the early years at Black Sail youth hostel, Ennerdale

Team members and their ambulance in the early years at Black Sail youth hostel, Ennerdale

A Lake District mountain rescue team will throw open its doors this weekend as it celebrates a diamond day.

Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team will mark its 60th anniversary with an open day at its base in the Cumbrian town.

The team said it has come a long way since the days when its members used a tobacco tin to keep its first aid kit in, and cycled to rescues.

The team was formed in 1953 at a public meeting in a room above Central Cafe in Cockermouth.

The meeting was attended by members of the local Rucksack Club, police, farmers and other interested members of the local community.

Members of Keswick team including Colonel Westmorland, the Fisher brothers and Mike Nixon also attended to offer six years’ mountain rescue experience.

The area was divided between the two teams, and John Bell was elected as chairman and Jack Jackson as quartermaster. The two had first had the idea of starting the rescue team.

The team was called out six times in its first year of existence; last year it had more than 60.

By December 1953 the new Cockermouth team had raised about £50, enough to buy 300ft of rope, six karabiners and two electric lanterns. Members donated the rest of the equipment.

In 2013 the annual running costs are likely to be £46,000 per year.

The present-day Cockermouth MRT

The present-day Cockermouth MRT

The team will hold an open day at its Station Street headquarters, its home for the past 10 years, starting at 10am on Saturday, 23 February.

Cockermouth MRT said it wants to show how new equipment and technology has changed the way it operates in 2013 compared to the 1950s and 1960s when the team was called out by a policeman going door to door around the town.

Chairman Steve Brailey said: “Over the last 60 years many things haven’t changed; the mountains are the same, the casualties have the same type of injuries, although the causes may be very different – flooding, parapenting, mountain biking.

“There’s also the fundraising by team members that’s required to fund the team’s operation.

“However, all the equipment, vehicles and headquarters building are for nothing without the team members who volunteer to train, fundraise and take part in the rescues themselves.

“It’s really quite humbling to see that we have two team members with over 50 years of service in the Cockermouth team, 12 team members with 25 or more years of service and another 20 members with 10 or more years’ service.”

Team leader Mike Park added: “The team has no doubt come a long way since the early days of first aid kits in tobacco tins and attending callouts on bikes.

“We’ve certainly got busier while techniques and technology have changed things immensely, but even having been involved with the team for less than half those 60 years, I think that I can confidently say that some things have not changed.

“The team works and works well through teamwork and a voluntary ethos, where nothing is too much trouble and adaptability is always at the forefront.

Members of the Cockermouth team in the town with another early ambulance

Members of the Cockermouth team in the town with another early ambulance

“Today’s team stands on the shoulders of giants – the people who first came up with the idea of a Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team and made it a reality; the people who followed, both within the team and throughout the wider mountain rescue community; the wives, partners, family and friends that equally make the team what it is as the team members themselves.”

The team has estimated it has been called out 1,407 times, though about a third of these have occurred within the past 10 years.

Sadly, about 100 people have died in the incidents.

A total of 182 people have been members of the team, including the current 42 volunteers.

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