Mountain rescue team members with the group of Brussels students. Photo: Central Beacons MRT

Mountain rescue team members with the group of Brussels students. Photo: Central Beacons MRT

Mountain rescuers who turned out to help a small group lost in the Brecon Beacons got more than they bargained for.

As members of the Central Beacons and Brecon Mountain Rescue Teams made their way to search for the group on the Neuadd Ridge on Thursday, they learnt there were actually 43 children unaccounted for.

There was further confusion over the actual number of school students in the group, which was visiting the area from the Belgian capital Brussels.

A Central Beacons team spokesperson said: “We were called to what looked at first to be a very simple call to assist a small group that had got themselves lost on the Neuadd Ridge.

“Just as we were slowing our response down because we thought they had got themselves to safety, the message came through that the small group was actually a large school group from Brussels and 43 children were unaccounted for.

“Working closely with our colleagues from Brecon Mountain Rescue Team, we went on with the task to find this lost group.

“Once we got to the Old Barn Tea Rooms in Pontsticill, we quickly counted 42 children.

“That left us with the prospect of a lost child. The definitive list was sent through to us via an email which was then printed off at the nearby offices of Welsh Water – thanks guys. It was then rushed up to the control point. While that was happening we deployed teams on to the hill assuming we had a major search for a missing child.

“The list arrived and we carefully ticked off each child’s name against the children we had with us. After some very careful counting we accounted for each of them. There had been a miss count at the start of the day.”

The spokesperson said a very relieved and grateful set of teachers and students were then ferried back to their coach and added: “A huge thanks to the staff at the Old Barn Tea Rooms. They accommodated us so kindly – a great welcome.”

There was further relief for the school teachers when told there was no charge for the rescue. “Of course in other countries, mountain rescue is often not free and people are charged for the service,” the team spokesperson added. “The good news to this school group is that mountain rescue in the UK is free.”

The team said the teachers and pupils were a fantastic ambassadors for their school. “The kids were great fun and the teachers were very professional, a real pleasure to work with.”

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