The former Melrose fire station will be the team's new base

The former Melrose fire station will be the team's new base

Mountain rescuers have bought a former fire station in the Scottish Borders to replace their present base which they have outgrown.

St John Scotland has funded the purchase and renovation of the building in Melrose for Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team.

The volunteers, who cover West Lothian, Mid Lothian, the City of Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders west of the A68, will continue to use their present headquarters in Selkirk while their new building is renovated.

The team has operated out of the base since 1990 but it has now become too small for the rescuers’ needs. They have been searching for suitable alternative premises for almost 10 years.

For the past two years, with the support of St John Scotland, the team has been working hard to buy the old fire station in Melrose. TVMRT took ownership of the property on 12 April this year.

The move to the Melrose site will provide a building which has a multi-vehicle garage, administration facilities, a training room and welfare area.

Team leader Pete Matthews said: “Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team is delighted to take possession of the former fire station in Melrose and are extremely grateful to St John Scotland for their support and financial commitment to mountain rescue in Scotland.

“The building will be a fantastic asset for the team and greatly enhance the capacity of our volunteers to assist those in need. We believe this is a great opportunity to promote the work done by both of our organisations in serving our communities.”

St John Scotland was founded in 1947 and is part of a worldwide order which can trace its roots back to the Crusades. It is dedicated to improving the safety, health and quality of life of people in need.

The team receives the keys to the new building: from left, deputy team leader Dave Wright, team leader Pete Matthews, Alasdair Hutton, chair of the south-east Scotland committee of St John Scotland, Janice Hogarth of the south-east Scotland committee

The team receives the keys to the new building: from left, deputy team leader Dave Wright, team leader Pete Matthews, Alasdair Hutton, chair of the south-east Scotland committee of St John Scotland, Janice Hogarth of the south-east Scotland committee

Over three decades it has been the biggest single supporter of the volunteer mountain rescue movement in Scotland, with funding totalling some £3.5m, and has recently funded the appointment of a mountain safety instructor to work with university climbing clubs to help train new student climbers, who are seen as an at-risk group.

Major General Mark Strudwick, prior of St John Scotland, said: “I am delighted that St John Scotland has been able to fund the purchase and renovation of the former fire station in Melrose as the new base for the Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team.

“This will be the 14th base that St John Scotland has provided for mountain rescue since 1998, and it will significantly enhance the team’s ability to train for and respond to rescue operations in the Borders area and more widely as required.

“As prior, I am very proud that we can continue to support this vital life-saving work in this way, and I look forward to seeing the building in its fully refurbished state later this year.”

Damon Powell, chair of Scottish Mountain Rescue, said: “St John Scotland continues to be a tremendous supporter of mountain rescue teams across Scotland and this most recent example is fantastic news.”

The Tweed Valley team’s area covers the highest hills of the Southern Uplands including the 840m (2756ft) Broad Law, much of the Pentland Hills, the Moorfoot, Tweedsmuir and Eildon Hills, the wild and remote Ettrick and Yarrow valleys and some of the best and most popular mountain biking areas in Scotland at Glentress and Innerleithen.

A large stretch of the Southern Upland Way is within the team’s area as well as a number of other popular waymarked paths. As well as the wild uplands, its area also covers significant population in Edinburgh and its volunteers are often called to assist police in searching rough low-level ground in less remote locations.

Alasdair Hutton, chair of the south-east Scotland committee of St John Scotland, said: “This is a major step forward for the central Borders, for the Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team, for Melrose and for St John Scotland.

“It will bring back into use a valuable building close to the town and give the team quick access to the road network through the Borders and up the Tweed Valley. I am very glad that St John Scotland has been able to play a central part in bringing this building back into use and putting a firm stamp on its commitment to the area.”

The Tweed Valley team has operated from various locations over its history although its longest period has been in Selkirk. It has now outgrown the garage facility there that was built by team members themselves.

The current base in Selkirk will stay in use for the foreseeable future as the Melrose facility is developed. The team said it will maintain its strong links with Selkirk and the support it has provided for local events will continue.

The team will also keep one Land Rover ambulance based at Peebles police station and a control vehicle based at the fire station in Galashiels.

Some articles the site thinks might be related:

  1. Hypothermic walkers and injured fellrunner rescued by Tweed Valley team
  2. Tweed rescue team uses defibrillator for first time to save mountain biker’s life
  3. Police award marks mountain rescuers’ service