Sunday, 20 December 2015

Rescue Me

I don't rattle the chugging tin very often, but I'm going to make an exception on January 10th and bang the drum for the Mountain Rescue. Two people I knew gave big chunks of their lives to the rescue and they both died recently. Jim Duffy and Steve Hildtich were both everyday people who did the odd extraordinary thing in their spare time and saved a few lives. Jim led the Oldham Team, Steve the Derby Team. Jim was a friend, Steve an acquaintance, both where really good at what they did and generous with their knowledge.

I didn't get rescued once, let me explain. Sometime in the 80's on the upper slopes of the Derwent Valley, I'm on a fell run practice in mid February. There is six inches of snow, we are breaking through a thin, friable ice crust and wading through the powder beneath, my shins getting cut to ribbons. Three of us break from our big group ignoring a fairly clear instruction, youthful exuberance getting the better of us. We lose contact with the rest. Suddenly we are three and one big empty moor. Then we are lost. We decide to follow a stream bed off the hill. I can't remember much about the next hour, but I remember being cold as we slowed down. Then climbing out of a snowed up stream gully, as I get to the ridge line a lump of powder snow slumps and there is a sheep frozen into the snow, its eyes open.

We get down to a road look at the map and see we are 7 or so miles from where we need to be. We start a run/walk to cover the ground to the van. We get there in time for a well deserved bollocking and the news the the rescue are out looking for us. Giving up their Sunday to look for some idiots who were out of their depth. We get word out, the pointless rescue is called off. We slink off home.
Since then I have always put a few quid in the fundraising tins, out of a mixture of guilt and as an insurance policy for the next time I do something stupid on a hill. I'm much more careful now but you never know.

Anyway a few of us are wandering round lower Wharfedale on January 10th and climbing a few boulders to try and raise some money for them. If you love the outdoors, or you know people that do, it might be worth remembering these few things:

The Mountain Rescue, work for nothing other than their own love of the outdoors and the odd bit of kit. They are perpetually underfunded yet still manage to apply their extensive local knowledge to getting prats like me and the genuinely unlucky out of tricky situations on the moors and mountains of this small but sometimes harsh island.

In some parts of the world you pay for rescue, sometimes if you haven't paid or can't pay you won't be getting rescued. Our rescue teams are a very British, low key, small scale success story and they always need a few quid, if only to put diesel in the Land Rover.

My local team is Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association and our just giving page for the event is here.

Don't give because you think we are doing something extraordinary we are not. Give because they do something extraordinary and we often take our real heroes for granted.


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