Chris Higgins (a Team Member since1996, and a Deputy Leader since 2000) has become only the 5th Team Leader in 66 years!
After serving 20 years in the post, Mark Hodgson MBE
stood down at the Team's AGM on Thursday 30th January 2014. The team is one of the busiest in the country with around 150 rescues each year. Its new leader is Chris Higgins. Chris will be ably supported by two new Deputy Team Leaders, Paul Barnes and Chris Harling along with the existing leaders, Simon Hodgson and Chris Gilyon.
Congratulations to Chris and his deputies and and a big thank you to Mark for his considerable contribution to mountain rescue locally, regionally and nationally.
Since its inception in 1947, the previous Team Leaders have been Lt Col Rusty Westmorland OBE (who preferred to be called the Captain), George Fisher MBE, Mike Nixon MBE and Mark Hodgson MBE.
Mark, our Team Leader, has received national recognition for services to mountain rescue and been awarded an MBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours list. In addition to the 40 years' service to his team, and 19 years as leader, Mark has made, and continues to make, significant contributions to mountain rescue in the Lake District region and also at the national body level. His tireless enthusiasm for mountain rescue in the widest sense, accompanied by his natural ability to manage the pressures of leading one of the busiest teams in the country, without doubt, deserve the recognition of such a prestigious award.
L-R: Scott Henderson KMRT, Mark Hodgson KMRT Leader, Dion Jones Aberglaslyn MRT Leader and Will Hordley
Keswick MRT has recently reviewed its arrangements for water rescue following discussions about the necessary training requirements for powered boats. As a result, a decision was made to replace its 3.8m Zodiac craft with a self-baling inflatable raft for flood work, and to negotiate a 24 hour access arrangement with local marinas and outdoor centres, when a craft is needed for a rescue on Derwentwater, Thirlmere or Bassenthwaite. A number of Team members will re-validate their RYA certification of competence with Safety Boats with the marina involved.
The new self-baling raft can be carried within one of the Team’s Mercedes 4x4 Sprinters, along with 6 personnel and all the necessary equipment for a water rescue. One consequence of the departure of the old boat and trailer is that all of the Team vehicles can now be accommodated within the Team's garage.
In the traditions of the Team, the old boat and trailer were offered after servicing, free of charge, to the most deserving MRT who could make use of them. This turned out to be Aberglaslyn MRT in North Wales, whose Team members Dion Jones and Will Hordley came up to Keswick to claim the boat and trailer.
For the last 4 years Mountain Rescue England and Wales (MREW), whose patron is Prince William, has hosted The Prince's Charities Day where the charities (Centrepoint, Child Bereavement and WellChild) come together to provide a day out for children. Prince William is patron of Centrepoint and Child Bereavement, with Prince Harry being patron of WellChild.
The event has been held in previous years in Patterdale, North Wales and the Peak District. This year Keswick Mountain Rescue Team were proud to host the event on Saturday 7th July. Fortunately the weather behaved itself with all outdoor activities going ahead as planned – wet weather alternatives had been arranged, but fortunately were NOT needed!
The whole purpose of the day was entirely for the benefit of the charity attendees, be they homeless, having just lost a close relative or themselves being very ill, to give them a great day out and experience something new in this fantastic environment in which we are so fortunate to live.
Planning for the event had been underway for several months to arrange a selection of activities to suit all attendees. It is not known by the organisers in advance if there will be Royal attendance on the specific day. There has been in the past.
Keswick Team was supported on the day by Cockermouth and Penrith Teams who each ran one of the organised events. Duddon and Furness MRT assisted us with transport logistics. Events on the day included a morning visit to Derwent Island and a trip around the gardens and the house for Wellchild, followed by a choice between a trip to the top of Latrigg in a mountain rescue vehicle or a session at the Calvert Trust adventure centre. Centre Point and Child Bereavement each had sessions abseiling, slack-lining and taking part in a simulated rescue and evacuation of a casualty.
All the charity attendees and helpers and all mountain rescue members, totalling just short of 100 people, met up at Derwentwater Hostel for lunch where we were joined by a Sea King rescue helicopter and crew from RAF 202 Squadron who landed in the grounds. Following a packed lunch prepared for us by the hostel, everyone had the opportunity to look at and have a look through the helicopter with the crew providing a feast of information about their operations and the types of rescue they get involved with.
The day concluded with tea and cakes back at the rescue team base, with presentation of certificates of attendance and ‘goody bags’ to all the charity attendees, presented by Mike Nixon MBE, President of Keswick MRT and LDSAMRA, before all set off on their journeys back home.
Keswick Mountain Rescue Team would like to acknowledge the great support received from the many contributing people and businesses who all helped us to give all attendees a great day out - RAF 202 Squadron Leconfield, Cockermouth MRT, Penrith MRT and Duddon & Furness MRT, Kathy Morris and Dave Piercy at Derwentwater Youth Hostel, Douglas and Fiona Barnes from Derwent Island, Bryson's Bakery, Cumberland Pencil Museum, George Fisher, McKanes Printers, Calvert Trust, Allerdale Borough Council, Longthwaite and Honister Youth Hostels, Keswick Climbing Wall and the The Puzzling Place.
Organising an event like this depends on the commitment, support and hard work of many people. The glittering prizes are the faces of the Children …. awe, excitement, smiles and the sound of laughter. One of life’s priceless occasions!
‘I really enjoyed the Mountain Rescue day. It was the best day ever. I was really glad
I conquered my fear of abseiling, I am so happy I did it in the end”
‘Thank you for an awesome day. I loved every part of it. And thank you for the
goodie bag it was amazing.”
I really enjoyed going to the Lake District especially seeing the helicopter, I was so taken back.”
“I really enjoyed taking part in the rescue. I would never have had this opportunity normally!”
Russ Hore from Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue – 9 Jan 2012
RESCUERS searching for lost walkers and climbers can now pinpoint them with new smartphone technology. And a text message reassuring stranded people that help is on its way will be sent, as rescuers set out to get them off the mountainside.
The specialist software, SarLoc, has been developed by Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation member Russ Hore.
The system, which relies on GPS and mobile phones, enables rescue teams to go straight to the missing people, who often have no idea exactly where they are on the hillside.
Russ, who has been a member of the Ogwen Valley team for over 20 years, said: “On many of these incidents a considerable amount of time would have been spent locating the missing people, putting extra load on over burdened team members.” The IT security consultant introduced the concept of tracking Ogwen team members via their radios back in 2006, and has been continuously working to introduce techniques to assist them.
He said: “The number of callouts rescue teams receive is increasing every year, putting a great strain on the volunteer rescuers who give up their time freely to aid those who come to grief in the mountains. “Quite often we receive a mobile phone call from people on the hill who are lost, normally due to bad weather closing in, poor navigation or being overcome by darkness – sometimes all three. “The work done in tracking team members led me to develop SarLoc, which is being used successfully on an increasing number of calls.”
He explained the system uses functions of the web browser available on many mobiles. “Once the caller makes the distress call the rescue team leader sends a SarLoc text to that phone,” he said. “The caller then just clicks on the link in the text, the webpage asks the phone for its location, which is displayed on the rescue team’s map. “At the same time the caller sees a page reassuring them the team know where they are and help is on it’s way. The caller doesn’t need to do anything more technical than simply clicking on the link.”
The system will only work on smartphones and where there is a phone signal. Russ added: “That can be a problem in the valleys around here but up on the tops you can get good reception. It will not work for all cases but I would guess more than 75% of the time it will.”
The Team was grateful to receive a cheque from 11 year old Amy Mason, who managed to get herself sponsored to the tune of £300 for walking the Fairfield Horseshoe during the summer. She was shown round the Team Headquarters by Deputy Leader Simon Hodgson with her family, and is shown here handing over the cheque to Mick Guy, one of the Team Trustees, whilst his Search Dog Ginny looks on. We were delighted to hear that Amy has further fundraising events planned for the Team in the future!
Hoax calls to Keswick Mountain Rescue Team are very rare occasions – if ever - except this one. The Team is very pleased that the Police and the Magistrates took this incident so seriously and by so doing showed a huge support for all the work the Team does.
Sarah Louise Crickmer, 27, a freelance reporter of South Shields has been found guilty in a 2 day trial of two counts of sending false messages by a public electronic communication network to cause annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety.
Manned by 46 volunteer members who give up huge amounts of their time to go to the assistance of injured and lost walkers and climbers, Keswick Mountain Rescue Team is the busiest in the country, dealing with a record 136 full-team rescues and 28 alerts in 2009. Already in 2010 there have been 101 rescues and 18 alerts. Weekly training, equipment checking and maintenance and running the business side of the Team with running costs of £75,000 per year further demonstrates this commitment. The Team receives no public funding, relying totally on voluntary contributions.
The Team was heavily involved in the severe flooding that hit Keswick in November 2009 where they were active for a continuous 30 hour period and assisted 190 casualties, before going on to help with the more publicised flood relief and search activities at Cockermouth and Workington.
On the day in question, the Team was paged at 5.40 pm regarding a rescue on Skiddaw, where a walker had apparently fallen and broken their leg. The information that we were able to gain from the ‘informant’ was very sketchy and just didn’t add-up. Several separate discussions with the informant by senior Team members followed, culminating in the Police attending the informant’s hotel with the Team Leader and following further questioning arresting her. In the meantime, 32 members of the Team had already set off to Skiddaw in poor conditions to locate the casualty should the incident in fact turn out to be genuine. The Team was recalled when the informant admitted that this was a hoax call. This was rescue number 131 of 2009 it transpires that a reporter was trying to make a story out of mountain rescue teams not doing mountain rescues because of their input to the flood rescue operations.
As was categorically demonstrated on the day this was not, and never will be, the case. Within 2 days of this call the Team was involved in a serious accident on Sharp Edge again lasting several hours and in also in poor weather conditions. The Team went on to do 136 rescues in 2009 far and away the busiest ever year.
Whenever a walker has suffered an accident, mountain rescue teams will respond. We do, however, repeat previous pleas for walkers and climbers to go on the hills prepared and to take a torch, map and compass and have the knowledge how to use them. If rescue teams are involved for many hours for example, in searching for ill-equipped casualties this could detract from resources being available for a seriously injured casualty. Team members are all volunteers and the Team relies heavily on our employers releasing members to attend rescues during working hours calls that could be avoided may decrease the willingness of our employers to allow time off.
Mike actually joined the Team in 1952, so the award of this Certificate recognising Mike's 50 years of service to MR was a bit late. Why? Mike is the recipient of the first ever certificate of recognition for 50 years to be awarded.
In this photograph, the Certificate is being presented to Mike by David Allan, chairman of Mountain Rescue England and Wales.
In the early spring of 1951 Mike Nixon, team member of Keswick Mountain Rescue Team, climbed Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis in late winter conditions, aged 25. All he remembers of that trip was Tower Gap and the camaraderie of his climbing partners Gunter Franz, Pip Richardson, and Des Oliver. All 4 were members of Keswick Mountaineering Club, and soon after became members of Keswick Mountain Rescue Team.
On the 31st May 2008 Mike Nixon MBE, team member and President of Keswick Mountain Rescue Team, President of LDSAMRA did it again, this time to celebrate his 80th birthday.
Organised by Mike’s son Chris, Team Leader of Kintail Mountain Rescue Team Mike, Chris and 12 members of the Keswick Team climbed Tower Ridge on Saturday 31st May in absolutely perfect conditions.
Leaving the North Face car park the group ascended via the Allt a’ Mhuilinn to the CIC hut, where the on tap liquid refreshment was most welcoming. The party split up here, with the 14 climbers continuing to the Ridge, while another 12 family members, friends and non-climbers walked via half-way lochan and up the zig-zags to the summit. Mike’s wife Val, his daughter-in-law Janice and his grandchildren Louise, Donald and Alasdair all walked to the top of Ben Nevis.
Climbing in groups of 2 or 3 in perfect conditions (t-shirts the whole way!) the route took five hours to complete with regular refreshment stops, including stops for application and reapplication of sun-cream! As with all rescue teams the banter throughout was non-stop. A few of the more technical/exposed sections of the 600m route were protected with a fixed rope and prussicks, including Tower Gap, with the teams still roped but moving together over the remainder of the route.
By the time the climbers had reached the Eastern Traverse, the non-climbing group were on the summit, watching progress through binoculars and to the accompaniment of someone on the summit with a very large drum. Walkers on the summit commenting on the “they must be mad” climbing party were amazed to be told that one of the climbers was in fact 80!
The whole party reunited on the summit, still in t-shirts, for further refreshments and a photo call, before returning via the zig-zags, half-way lochan and Allt a’ Mhuilinn, with views as far as Mull, Skye, Schihallion and beyond. An onward journey to Dornie resulted in more birthday celebrations going on into the early hours……..
Mike Nixon has been a member of Keswick Mountain Rescue Team for over 50 years. He was team leader for 15 years, following George Fisher into the role and was awarded an MBE for his services to mountain rescue in 1993. As many people will know, Mike has been instrumental in the development of the Keswick team and mountain rescue generally. What most people won’t know is that Mike is still a regular on many rescues every year. In 2007 Mike attended 31 rescues out of the 90 full team callouts undertaken by the Team and has been on 1150 rescues in the 25 years since 1983, from when accurate records are available. He has been on many hundreds more prior to 1983. Mike doesn’t ask for and doesn’t receive any concession while on rescues, as he doesn’t need them. He will regularly be seen carrying large sacs of gear up the hill and carrying the stretcher on the descents.
Apparently to every rule there is an exception – we certainly have evidence of one here!
Mark Hodgson - Team Leader
2 actors required our assistance after they had befallen near-tragedy in our area.
Click here for more information.
It is with great pride and delight that we can announce that as from 16th May 2007, Prince WIlliam has agreed to become the Patron of our national body, Mountain Rescue (England & Wales).
This is a great honour and recognises the totally committed and voluntary contribution which we make to the relief of suffering and distress among those who succumb to accident or natural hazards within the Lake District.
The Prince has indicated that he wishes to become actively involved in our work. Watch this space!
Wedneday 15th February 2006
Mark Hodgson (Team Leader) and Paul Horder (Team Member and international representative for Mountain Rescue England & Wales ) were both privileged to be invited to a Reception to mark the contribution of the Emergency Services and those involved in Disaster Response. The Queen spent a few minutes talking to Mark and Paul about Keswick and about mountain rescue in the Lake District.
The Team's Land Rover was requested to be in attendance to represent the 53 mountain rescue teams in England and Wales. Keswick MRT was the first volunteer civilian team and was established in 1947.
The Land Rover was on display in the courtyard of the Palace, where it formed part of a guard of honour for the invited guests to the reception.
The Reception was attended by The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Princess Royal, The Duchess of Gloucester, The Duke of Kent, Prince Michael of Kent and Princess Alexandra.
Bomb disposal, Police, Doctors, Fire Service, Ambulance, Mountain Rescue and Submarine Rescue. There was also a RAF Sea King in the garden!
The same scene by night with enough blue lights to alarm some members of the public!
Well, Officer, it was like this ... !
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