Ray Griffiths, who has been elected president of Mountain Rescue England and Wales

Ray Griffiths, who has been elected president of Mountain Rescue England and Wales

A stalwart of the Patterdale team has been elected president of the national body for mountain rescue in England and Wales.

Ray Griffiths, who is the longest serving member of Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team, said following celebrated predecessors will be a daunting task.

Former holders of the post with Mountain Rescue England and Wales include Peter Bell, who invented the stretcher used by many teams on the mountains of the UK.

Mr Griffiths’s friend and ex-Patterdale Team Leader, Dave Freeborn said: “Ray is a fount of knowledge on mountain clothing and kit.

“His rucksack show was a legend at team winter training sessions and he shared all that experience and expertise as the Lake District’s delegate on the national equipment subcommittee for almost 20 years.”

In that role, Mr Griffiths worked with national equipment officer Richard Terrell to lead the process of finding a replacement manufacturer for the specialist Bell stretcher.

“It’s a daunting task, following Peter Bell, given everything he achieved for mountain rescue,” he said. “I hope to visit as many teams and regions as I can, to talk to people at all levels of our community.

“And by community I mean far beyond those wearing the red jackets: the partners and families behind us all, our fundraisers and supporters and even work colleagues who tolerate us vanishing at a moment’s notice.”

Five years ago, Mr Griffiths received the Distinguished Service Award for his contribution to that mountain rescue community, over 40 years’ service.

He said: “During that time, above all, I’ve valued that we get involved in mountain rescue to help others.

“Mountain rescue is unique. We need to work together to do what we do, as a cohesive team, finding or rescuing people in need in mountain and wilderness areas. Yet all teams have evolved individual skills and responses. Our teams operate in many different terrains but interact and support each other without question.”

Ray Griffiths joined the Patterdale team in January 1976 when he moved to the Eden area of Cumbria to teach at Ullswater Community College. He has served in a number of roles with the team, including deputy leader for many years, as well as undertaking work for the region and for MREW.

He said he no longer relishes the idea of flogging up to Striding Edge or the Helvellyn headwall in foul weather and at night – or both – with a heavy load, he has recently retaken and passed his casualty care qualification and is even considering taking up jogging to keep up with the younger members of the team.

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