Richard Warren in action flying a drone used in mountain rescue callouts. Photo: Bob Smith Photography

Richard Warren in action flying a drone used in mountain rescue callouts. Photo: Bob Smith Photography

The head of the umbrella organisation for Cumbria’s mountain rescue teams will deliver this year’s Wainwright memorial lecture.

Richard Warren, chair of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, will speak about the volunteer teams’ work at the event, which is organised by the aficionados of the late author Alfred Wainwright.

Proceeds from the Wainwright Society lecture will go to the association, which represents the 12 teams that cover the Lake District and surrounding fells and mines.

A society spokesperson said: “It will be a timely look at the association’s vital work as, at mid-August, there have already been 475 emergency callouts in the Lake District this year. It is shaping up to be one of the busiest years ever for the volunteers of Cumbria’s 10 mountain rescue teams and two specialist teams (mines rescue and search dogs).”

Richard Warren said: “People become lost and overdue and get themselves cragfast because they have deviated on the route. Many rely totally on smartphones for their navigation, with others just relying on blindly following the path or the group in front. Are they aware of the risk they take? I suspect not.”

Most callouts have been from people walking up mountains for the first time and being unprepared. Mr Warren said: “For the last 30 years we have been saying people need to take a map, compass and torch and learn how to use. Now we say, stay together as a group, take a power bank for your mobile phone and prepare by asking the three questions on the AdventureSmart.UK website – do you have the necessary knowledge and skills? Have you checked the weather? Do you have the right gear?”

The society spokesperson said: “Wainwright was himself briefly a member of the Kendal MRT around 1958 and was even actively involved in callouts. It seems fitting, therefore, that Mountain Rescue Cumbria is the Society’s 2023 charity beneficiary – AW would surely approve.

“Richard’s lecture will give insights into the work of Cumbria’s 12 mountain rescue teams, how technology supports mountain rescue’s work, why search and rescue dogs are still so important and much, much more, including those lighter moments which help to relieve the stress of an extremely demanding voluntary role. It will be a fascinating evening lifting the lid on mountain rescue’s work.

The memorial lecture will take place at 6pm on Saturday 30 September at Rheged, near Penrith. All profits will be donated to Mountain Rescue Cumbria which relies on voluntary donations.

Tickets are on sale now, priced at £8 for Society members and £12 for non-members, from the Rheged Centre website, in person from the box office or by phoning 01768 868000.

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