The Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team with an RAF Sea King helicopter before the service ended

The Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team with an RAF Sea King helicopter before the service ended

A mountain rescue team formed in response to the death of two shepherds in a blizzard will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year.

The Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team was established in 1965 by volunteer wardens of the national park.

The team will hold a black-tie ball in Newcastle upon Tyne in autumn as part of the celebrations and fundraising events.

Team spokesman Andrew Jenkins said: “For the first few years the team responded to around five incidents a year which has steady increased over time.

“Today, the volunteers respond to around 35 incidents per year. This, our 50th year, has been one of the busiest to date with 30 incidents.

“The type of incidents the volunteers respond to can be very different; from a climber having fallen from a crag requiring the team’s specialist technical rescue equipment to a three- to four-day search for a dementia patient having gone missing from their home.

“This year with the demise of RAF Boulmer, the nature of the team’s incidents is changing. We are experiencing many more rescue incidents which previously would have been dealt with by the search and rescue helicopter.”

The team’s typical operating costs of £20,000 a year is paid for through mainly charitable donations from the general public and a grant from the Northumberland National Park Authority.

On top of this, high cost items of equipment such as its two Land Rover ambulances, £50,000 and £70,000 respectively, have to be replaced periodically.

Mr Jenkins said: “In the team’s 50th year we hope to raise £50,000. This will fund a desperately needed new digital radio system to replace our ageing analogue system, the fitting out of a replacement command and control trailer, and the purchase of specialist water rescue related personal protective equipment.

“As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations and fundraising efforts, the team is organising a black-tie fundraising ball at the Biscuit Factory in Newcastle on 23 October. At the ball a number of outdoor-related products, donated by local companies, will be auctioned and raffled off to the members of the public present.”

The rescue team also runs its annual Cheviots Challenge in September, with a choice of either a 35km (22-mile) or 26km (16-mile) challenge walk through the North Pennines.

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