Ray Davies, left, is seen with team members in the early years

Ray Davies, left, is seen with team members in the early years

A rescue team marked 60 years’ service this weekend with a gathering at its base.

Glossop Mountain Rescue Team has carried out hundreds of missions in the Peak District since its beginnings in 1957.

Among the more unusual requests for help have been the removal of the clock hands from a church tower and the search for a non-existent crashed UFO.

The forerunner of the team was the Glossop and District Rover Scout Crew, which held its first meeting at Dinting Senior Scout headquarters on 15 November 1957, with January 1958 witnessing the first night hike for the new group with a 14-mile route to Glossop from Whaley Bridge.

This was followed by the more arduous Four Inns challenge, with three Glossop Rover teams entered in March of that year. In June the Rovers decided to join the voluntary warden service to help patrol the newly created Peak District national park.

In 1959 Inspector Guest of Derbyshire Police came to advise the Rovers on how best to help the police as members of a voluntary mountain rescue team. Acting on his advice the first team exercises were held in June of that year, led by Constable Bilson.

July 1959 also saw the team’s first rescue while the team was camping with the ranger service in Edale, assisting a girl with a sprained ankle off Kinder Scout.

A more dramatic rescue occurred in January 1960, when the team evacuated a walker with a broken leg, who had fallen in deep snow on Lawrence Edge, Bleaklow. The team was led by founder member Ray Davies, Glossop MRT’s lifelong president who was also Mountain Rescue Council secretary from 1977 to 2004 and who was appointed an MBE in 2009.

Peter Józefczyk of the team said: “The following years were quiet from a rescue perspective, with exercises outnumbering callouts. The Four Inns event of 1960 was an exception, testing the team’s ability to evacuate multiple hypothermia casualties, a situation which turned out to be a tragic foretaste of events that were to come.

“Further experience was gained from exercises and callouts, including the large-scale search for two missing Glossop children, who sadly were found dead from exposure by Glossop MRT members after a four-day search.”

Mr Józefczyk said 1964 turned out to be a pivotal year for mountain rescue in the Peak District, with the tragic deaths of three poorly equipped Scouts who were taking part in that year’s Four Inns event.

“Although the searchers, numbering 370 over four days, were praised for their valiant efforts in extremely difficult conditions, it was it was realised that greater coordination of rescue activity was required.

“A meeting was held at Buxton Police Station in September 1964. Representatives of the numerous local organisations attended and a search control panel was established. Many of the early ad-hoc rescue organisations disappeared or, like Glossop’s Moorland Rescue Team and Rover Scouts, amalgamated to create new organisations.

“Operational standards were set for team membership and incident controllers were appointed to provide a direct link from 999 calls to the police to individual team response.”

Today seven rescue teams, together with Search and Rescue Dogs Association dog handlers, operate as the Peak District Mountain Rescue Organisation.

Notable events in the Glossop team’s history include:

  • July 1994, the first use of pagers for a callout to Ladybower Tor for a woman who suffered a suspected broken ankle in a slip. Also in 1994, Staff Fairhurst received the distinguished service award from the Mountain Rescue Council for almost 40 years’ service, including as team secretary
  • August 1998, one of the team’s darkest days. The team was called out to rescue a woman with head injuries in Middle Black Clough. The stretcher party set off but at the bottom of Middle Black Clough Terry Broadbent, one of the long-standing members of the team, collapsed with a suspected heart attack. Immediate first aid was given and a paramedic from the original casualty descended to help. A helicopter was called from RAF Leconfield and Mr Broadbent was winched aboard and taken to Northern General at Sheffield where he pronounced dead on arrival
  • January 1994, the team was requested to help remove the clock hands from the tower at Mottram Church
  • In 1996 the team introduced its first official jacket: a high-visibility orange vest
  • January 1997, the team, along with Woodhead MRT whose members were on an exercise at Flouch, rigged up an aerial runway to help evacuate an injured walker across the swollen Black Clough river
  • March 1997, Glossop MRT was called out for the UFO crash on the Derwent Moors ‘that never was’, believed by some to be caused by a sonic boom during a covert military flight
  • July 1998, the team carried Terry Needham and Susan Doyle, who had multiple sclerosis, to Kinder Downfall
  • March 1999, a boy and his father were airlifted by helicopter from an igloo on Alport Moor on Bleaklow
  • January 2000 saw the first rescue of the new millennium with a search and evacuation of four walkers on Bleaklow
  • In 2001, the first team vehicle went into service and it’s still in use
  • April 2004, the team moved to Glossop Fire Station
  • June 2007, a new base at Glossop police station opened. This also coincided with the launch of the team’s own book, 999, Mountain Rescue Please, written by team member Paul Hitchen. In August the team had its 500th callout, to Woodhead Dam, where a mountain biker suffered head and spinal injuries after attempting to ride down the dam slipway banking.

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