A host of mountain celebrities could be invited to take part in a planned celebration of 75 years of mountain rescue in Britain.
The Lake District mountain rescue teams hope to put on an It’s A Knockout-style competition between the 12 rescue organisations. One possible idea is to ask original presenter Stuart Hall to join the contest. Others being touted for the invitation list include some of the biggest names in British mountain culture: Sir Chris Bonington, Simon Yates, Julia Bradbury, Simon Yates, Griff Rhys Jones, Bear Grylls and Eric Robinson.
A mountain rescue team at work in the Lakes
The celebration day will take place in Ambleside – Saturday 5 July being the most likely date. As well as the fun contest, it is planned to have an RAF Sea King helicopter demonstrate a rescue by winching and MRTs will also show off their expertise with a river rescue and a roped rescue on a nearby crag.
Tellingly, the teams also plan a ‘navigation clinic’ to help walkers with basic skills in finding their way around on the fells and mountains. MRTs throughout Britain, and in the Lakes in particular, are increasingly being called out not to walkers who have had accidents or injuries, but to those who get lost on the fells and reach first for a mobile phone rather than a compass.
The celebration is being staged by the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, an umbrella group for all the MRTs in the area.
Plans are still at an early stage, but could also include evening lectures and possibly putting on displays from the recently closed Rheged National Mountaineering Exhibition. Any money raised would go into the association’s coffers to be distributed among the teams.
One major purpose of the celebration is to raise public awareness of the role of mountain rescue among the general public, who are less mountain savvy than seasoned hillwalkers and run a greater risk of becoming MRT ‘customers’. But the event is meant to be a fun day too, and a true celebration of 75 years of volunteer mountain rescue in the UK.
It is expected other events will take place across the country to mark the anniversary.