Newspaper cuttings from the time

Newspaper cuttings from the time

A rescue team is today marking the anniversary of a tragedy that led to the setting up of the organisation 50 years ago.

Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team was formed after a major search by police, farmers, estate keepers and rescue team members from across the North of England in an operation to try to find Robert Akrigg.

Mr Akrigg, a 55 year old reservoir keeper set out in treacherous conditions to check the water gauges from the Gorple Cottages near Hebden Bridge, but never returned. Water board employees were joined by scores of people in the hunt for the missing man on the South Pennines moors.

A Calder Valley SRT spokesperson said: “As the week progressed, the search mounted in intensity and, by the third day, more than 300 people were searching the moors and stayed from first light until dark without success.

“With the passing of days, the hope of finding Mr Akrigg alive diminished; however the searchers never gave up. Throughout the search, the wintry conditions were relentless with biting cold wind, causing an icy ‘smoke’ over the whole moors.

“Tragically Mr Akrigg wasn’t found during the search and it was only when the heavy snows of that winter receded after some 65 days, that his body was discovered.”

As a result of the tragedy, an inaugural meeting was held in early 1966 at Hebden Bridge Council offices with more than 30 people attending. At the meeting, Wally Keay, a former leader of Wharfedale Fell Rescue Team, said: “There’s nothing heroic or romantic about being in a rescue team; just 5 per cent inspiration and 95 per cent hard slogging. The first priority of a new team is training in navigation and first aid.”

During the meeting Calder Valley Moorland Rescue Association was formed and they sought the help of Hebden Bridge St John Ambulance Brigade to help with first aid training.

The association became the Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team and its members plan a celebration early next year to mark its golden anniversary. A service will be held at St Michaels Church, Mytholmroyd on 6 February.

The team spokesperson said: “This is an open invitation to anyone who wishes to join us at this service. Please pass on this invitation to previous team members and anyone who we have helped over the last 50 years.”

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