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60 years CockermouthMountainRescue Team

incorporating the Annual Report 2013

1953-2013


‘Day one’ It is the evening of Monday the 23rd of February 1953. My name is John Millington and my friend David Martin and I are in Armstrong’s cafe at a meeting that has been called to discuss the formation of a mountain rescue team in Cockermouth. The café is familiar to everyone in the town. This room above the cake-shop is used by many different organisations, including our Rucksack Club, for meetings, lectures, slide-shows and so on. There are a lot of people here – probably about fifty. We know a lot of them because, as members of the club, we go climbing or walking with them every weekend. They are all a bit older than us two (I’ll be sixteen next week and David is about a year younger) but we are all friends and enjoy each others company on the fells. There are some people here from the Keswick Mountain Rescue Team which was formed in 1947. George Fisher, Mike Nixon and Colonel Rusty Westmoreland will be offering their help because they have the knowledge and experience of mountain rescue. They’ve brought George Abraham with them – he is getting on a bit now. He is one of the famous Abraham brothers who took all those wonderful photographs in the mountains. There are people here from the ambulance service and the police. There are some farmers and other people from the Lorton and Buttermere area. We know Tom and Jos Richardson from Gatesgarth Farm and there are a few more who we recognise but, apart from one that David knows as Wilson, we don’t know their names. We do recognise Chris Greenhow from the Fish Hotel and Rodney Twitchen from the Victoria. It is usually the local folks who are alerted when there have been incidents on the fells. John Bell is presiding over the meeting. Quite a change for him – he is more usually up a ladder with a paint-pot and brush. He is well-regarded in the town as a painter and decorator. He is also one of the first amateur photographers to make colour slides and he gives many illustrated talks locally. This winter he took a photograph of David in his yellow sweater and me in my red one on the upper slopes of Blencathra. It was a bright sunny day 2 l CMRT 1953–2013 60 years


Top: Members of the ‘Rucksack Club’. Above: Armstrong’s cafe, also known as Central Cafe, now Ladbrokes’ betting shop. Photo copyright Cockermouth Museum Group. Left: News item from the Cumberland Evening Star.

and we showed up well against the snowy background. It now features in his current slide-show. Everyone seems enthusiastic and there are offers of help from all round. Rodney Twitchen has a contact at the British Ropes Company and is certain he can get some ropes at a discount – these new nylon ropes are very expensive. Somebody thinks they know where they can get a stretcher and Dr Jim Joyce thinks that local doctors and chemists would help with first-aid items. He also volunteered to be the Medical Officer. Transport could be a problem. The police will help when they can and Sydney Graham, a local businessman with a large estate-car can help on occasions. Norman Lister, who works at Jennings Brewery, says he will be allowed to use one of their lorries although it will not be very comfortable for those riding in the back. At best, until an ambulance can be afforded, the team would only be able to bring casualties to the nearest roadside. Call-outs would be co-ordinated by the police. Those few people who have a phone would pose no problem but those who haven’t would be contacted by a knock on the door by another team member or a policeman. Funds will have to be raised for equipment and the day-to-day running of the team. Donations will have to be sought from local people, businesses and other organisations and it is likely that each team member would have to pay a subscription. David suggests that funds could be raised by such things as jumble sales, raffles and coffee mornings or evenings. Harold Bowe says he can open an account for the team at the National Provincial Bank where he works and would be happy to be the team’s treasurer. After a short break for tea and biscuits it has been decided that there will be a mountain rescue team in Cockermouth. There were one or two dissenting voices including, surprisingly, one of the Rucksack Club members. Some people are now expressing concern that David and I are too young to be exposed to potentially dangerous work but Inspector Hulley comes to our defence by saying we would be useful for running messages! We don’t say anything but we are hoping to be more involved than that. We are both very fit – in addition to the climbing and walking we are >>> CMRT 1953–2013 60 years l 3


1953

6 callouts By December the Team had raised about £50, enough to buy 300 feet of rope, six karabiners and two electric lanterns... members donated the rest. 4 l CMRT 1953–2013 60 years

Left to right: Muriel Graves, John Millington, John Dempster and John Moon.


Left: The first garage – with Eric Hargreaves, Jack Jackson, Antony Rigby, Peter Chandler, Dennis Graves and Dave Towers. Below right: A feature in the Cumberland Evening Star, January 1957, on the formation and operation of the Team. It mentions that the members carry dual purpose electric lamps and also a paraffin pressure storm lantern, a gift from a lady rescued from High Crag, Buttermere. It stressed the volunteer aspect of the Team and the on-going need for funds.

>>> both active in the Scouts and play rugby at the Grammar School. David is a very good gymnast and I am quite useful at middle-distance and cross-country running (but I didn’t think the Inspector knew that). John Bell is elected as Chairman and Jack Jackson as Quartermaster. It was these two who first had the idea of starting a mountain rescue team. Norman Lister will be the Team Leader. In addition to the names already mentioned the first people in the queue to join are Jock Thomson, Norman Telford, Gordon Young, Clarke Rook, Pat Salkeld and Harold Tyson. Harold has been taking notes all evening – he is a reporter on the West Cumberland Times so we should get a bit of free publicity. So – what a good start to what we think will be a great year. The Queen will be crowned on June 2nd and we are all certain that John Hunt’s expedition will conquer Everest before then. And who knows – maybe Stanley Matthews will win his first cup-winner’s medal and Gordon Richards win his first Derby. They say that the Queen will reign for a very long time – perhaps more than sixty years. I wonder if the Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team will last that long? It would be interesting to come back in 2013 and find out. n In compiling this I am grateful for the help given by my friend David Martin who has restored bits of my memory and corrected some inadvertent errors. I value his continued friendship which was formed well before the Rescue Team. John Millington, Yarm, December 2012

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“This one [stretcher] cost us forty pounds. It had telescopic handles and runners on the bottom. It had an alloy frame… designed for mines rescue work but we couldn’t beg one from anywhere so we had to buy...”

Right: Members of CMRT in 1954, Pat Selkeld, Billy Bowman, Clarke Rook, Harold Tyson, David Martin, Norman Telford.

Left: Working with the Thomas stretcher. Right: WRVS supplying soup and sandwiches after an all night call out to Pillar.

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“When I joined there were no qualifications needed. When they got me, I was just somebody who liked walking and I was quite handy at First Aid.”

At the 1954 AGM it was decided to a) levy a membership subscription of 2/6 per annum; (b) defer the matter of insurance of members until funds were more plentiful; and (c) to seek suitable team transport.

“Eventually a Jeep was bought... an ex-army vehicle...too light at the front. A large concrete block was cast and fitted to the front bumpers to rectify this problem. It helped!”

CMRT was the first rescue team in the country to have radios. “After some clever infiltration of the Civil Defence by members of the Team, we started using their portable radios for rescue work.”

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1953

Set of chocs

Tape sling with karabiner

Pegs and braking devices

Boots with crampons fitted

Tape chocs

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Joe Brown helmet

Elastoplast and plasters

Hawser laid nylon rope


Ice axe with wooden shaft

Moac choc

Leather boots with nails

Gaiters

Canvas rucksack

Pig Hammer

Ventile anorak

Early harness

Paraffin storm lantern

Hemp waist loop

Equipment images taken and kindly donated by Michael Lishman (www.michaellishman.com)

Willans harness

Wire chocs

CMRT 1953–2013 60 years l 9


“There was very litttle [medical] equipment for the Team to use apart from a first aid box and a stretcher.”

fitted a new engine in one of the Bedford 1963 “We ambulances at a cost of around £50. The rent for the new base, which was just a garage, was a peppercorn rent of one shilling from Cockermouth Urban District Council, so we had few overheads. Any income/expenditure would only be in a few hundred or so pounds.” 10 l CMRT 1953–2013 60 years


1963

10 callouts “Building the garage [1962], which served as the HQ for many years, was as much a Team effort as carrying out a rescue. We approached firms to donate materials, no-one refused – even a cement mixer was borrowed, plans drawn and legal work given free of charge. Jim Coyle’s father used his skill as a builder and the Team acted as labourers.”

Above: Early 1960s,with Jim Coyle, Jock Thompson, Billy Bowman, John Dempster, Peter Shand and Frank Rushton

Right: Harold Tyson, Jack Jackson, Keith Slinger, Sheila Redmond, Bob Hodgson, Dennis Graves, Peter Chandler, Eric Graves, Jock Thompson. The Rolls Royce ambulance replaced the jeep.

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June 1965.

1968: “Over £1,000 was raised by special appeal... aimed at equipping the Team with a radio communication system... a sponsored walk brought in a further £750 enabling us to purchase our first Land Rover.” 12 l CMRT 1953–2013 60 years


Left: Red Pike rescue.

Left: Vehicles and equipment late 1960s.

Above: First Aid box 1965, with Chris Bonnington (standing, second from right).

“Everyone was good at using the ubiquitous triangular bandage, reflective foil sheets for hypothermia, clumsy splints and morphine in the form of pre-loaded units.”

At the 1969 AGM, 21 officials were elected, compared to 12 in 1954. CMRT 1953–2013 60 years l 13


15th June1969

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From the original Team logbook.


The Team was practising a new technique of horizontal stretcher lower at Low Crag above Gatesgarth, Buttermere. One lower had been successfully completed but on the second, a huge rock, holding the main belay, broke away causing a substantial rock fall, which engulfed the stretcher and several of the members. Jock Thomson, the Team Leader, acting as one of the barrow boys,was struck by the boulder and killed instantly. Jim Coyle, the other barrow boy suffered a broken arm and cracked ribs. Of the two main belay members, Michael Stephenson was catapulted out onto the scree below and died in hospital from his injuries the following day.Kathryn Walton, the other main belay person, was carried down the crag resulting in a broken arm and a broken pelvis. Rex Usher, acting as the casualty on the stretcher, buried under the debris, suffered cracked ribs and severe bruising. Several other Team members suffered more minor injuries such as rope burns. The accident obviously had a profound effect on what was a very young team and it is still probably the most serious accident to have occurred in Mountain Rescue in Great Britain.

“There was a general feeling that we wanted to pack it in. You’ve got to remember that we were all young lads. We’d never had to face anything like this before...” Jim Coyle “It was an act of God” (Jim’s statement to the Coroner) CMRT 1953–2013 60 years l 15


1973:

15 callouts

1973 cost of running the Team: £1,000 From the Daily Mirror: This callout happened on 2nd and 3rd April 1972 and was a Panel Search in Seathwaite involving Keswick, Cockermouth, RAF, Bolton, Kendal and Ullwater Outward Bound School. The picture illustrates a casualty being returned to Seathwaite. Stretcher crew is mainly made up of Cockermouth members.

Right: Jim Coyle with our first search dog, Rock. He started training in 1970, one of the first in the area. He attained the coveted ‘C’ grade. At the time there were only two others at this high standard in the country.

Our first Annual Report, in 1973.

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1973: Social Committee formed!

“This year, the Team decided, while it can, to make a boot allowance to its callout members, this being on top of a set of waterproofs and safety helmet.”

LOG BOOK ENTRY: 5th December 1975 / 06.30 / Whinlatter Forest Edith Tyson – Reported missing / Left home previous evening last seen at 16.30 on the road towards Braithwaite in darkness She previously went for walks and had been picked up in various places. KMRT and SARDA joined in at first light. She was found at about 09.15 by Rock and Jim Coyle about ¼ mile from her home in quite good condition.

1970s: A three-yearly First Aid course is introduced.

A PERSONAL ACCOUNT: We had been out for this old lady before so we knew her history well. She lived in Whinlatter Forest, in a small house by the roadside and she tended to slip out unnoticed by the family and wander off. I set out to search at first light as dawn broke. We had done a token search on forest roads the previous night but had found no sign. The difficulty of searching forests is the closeness and density of the trees and trying to remember where you have looked. This is where the value of a search dog is proved. I had been working two or three hours and was thinking of stopping for a rest and a coffee break when Rock, who was down below me in a very thick part of the forest, began to bark. I can’t describe the thrill you get when you know your dog’s made a find. So coffee spilled over and I crawled in on hands and knees to find Rock looking up at the old lady who was hung up in a tree by the hood of her jacket. She totally ignored me and kept saying what a lovely dog. She must have heard me working the dog above her but she had made no effort to shout. I had to cut her hood to get her down yet all the way back to the road she walked beside and talked to the dog! Jim Coyle The first British search dogs were in Scotland and Hamish McInnes was instrumental in using them. Rock was a puppy from Hamish’s dog’s litter and became one of the first search dogs in the Lakes achieving the C grade, the highest rating possible.

“The Pye Bantam sets used for many years were replaced with Dymars (provided by the police) in the mid-seventies.” “The two vehicles were fitted with pneumatic aerials around 1974.” CMRT 1953–2013 60 years l 17


Income to equip and train the Team came from collecting boxes and donations, whist drives and raffles and the exhibition at Buttermere.

In the 1970s the Team painted the school at Buttermere to say thanks. Jim Coyle, John Dempster, Edward Holloway, John Bulman and Jim Hall are amongst those pictured. Below: Cockermouth Lions Club present an Entonox set to the Team. John Dempster, Dave Kealey, Bill Blackburn, Lions President, Peter Hodgson and Edward Holloway.

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Below: Team practice at Round Howe.


LOG BOOK ENTRY: 26th – 27th November 1977 / 21.45 hours / Helvellyn Man, 37, daughter, 6, walking along summit plateau, went too near edge and both slipped falling 400 feet to their deaths. Part of a party of five, these two were in the lead and underestimated the steepness of the ground in the slightly misty conditions. Seven teams involved. CMRT bivouacked at 04.00 hours after searching from Brown Cove Crags to Helvellyn top, met RAF helicopter with survivors of party at first light and were shown actual position of the fall. Bodies located and evacuated by helicopter. Accident occurred at 15.00 hours 26.11.77 in very icy conditions / 11 members involved.

A PERSONAL ACCOUNT: Very pleased to see the dawn after a cold bivouac. The previous night’s search on Helvellyn for a man and his daughter had been called off until first light. A yellow RAF search helicopter picked up a few of us to have a look around the crags of Brown Cove and it did not take long before we spotted two figures. We were, in a way, expecting the worst; the chances of survival after falling over a snow covered cliff are not great but there was always hope. Axes and crampons ready, two of us jumped from the hovering machine onto the steep slope. Hope evaporated as I approached the little girl. One hand was all it took to lift her frozen body into the helicopter. Having a young daughter of my own I could not imagine a worse tragedy. Without a doubt the most haunting experience in my forty-odd years with the Team. Bob Liddell

Display boards presented by High Duty Alloys.

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Right: Whirlwind helicopter winching casualty in the vicinity of Pillar. Below left: Night practice on Grasmoor. Below right: A callout in the early 1970s returning to Gatesgarth with the casualty. Left to right: Allan Ibbitson, Bob Liddell, Jim Coyle, Garth Bradshaw, Edward Holloway and John Dempster.

The first time that a helicopter combined with the Team to effect a rescue was on 7th June 1975. The Team was called out to an incident on Pillar Rock in the Ennerdale valley where a climber had fallen 150 feet from the Rib and Slab route.

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“Lighting: in the early years, we had hand torches, Tilley lamps and Tilley searchlights... they lasted for a long time and gave out a good low-intensity light. They were also very good for keeping our hands warm... (but they were very difficult to relight... occasionally in snow or heavy rain the glass could shatter with the change in temperature). We tried a number of alternatives, one of the most effective being a portable generator that powered a huge

Left: Mick Birch, Jim Coyle and Jim Hall operate the petrol-driven generator, which gave a very effective light, but shrouded the carrier in a cloud of two-stroke engine fumes.

searchlight... the downside was that it was so noisy we could not communicate with each other. Also, as we struggled to get up the hill with it, we were engulfed in twostroke exhaust fumes... we then moved onto large lead-acid battery-powered seachlights (replaced with the use of jelly batteries). These, together with new rechargable searchlights, rechargeable hand torches, and individual headtorches now form the basis of the Team’s lighting for some time. With the development of LED technology a similar light is produced by a hand held unit. Members also all have high output LED head torches which weigh a fraction of the earlier ones. With this we no longer need pack lights as each individual has sufficient light to search effectively at night.” CMRT 1953–2013 60 years l 21


Practice makes perfect

1980s Gillerthwaite practice.

Above: A practice in the mid 1970s on the Team’s annual Gillerthwaite weekend. John Grey, Tony Daly and one other! (NB long ropes carried on drums fitted to pack frames!)

Right: August 1981. Radio Cumbria transmitted from the top of Skiddaw and asked the Team to do a demonstration with the RAF. Jim Coyle is the ‘casualty’. An unforeseen consequence occurred when the down draft from the helicopter blew the Radio Cumbria tent away!

Trying out the new inflatable in 2011.

Pillar winter practice!

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Above: A 1970s practice at Gate Ghyll, Buttermere. Left to right: Maurice Anderson, Dennis Graves, Neil Bowden, Edward Holloway, Jim Coyle and John Robertson.

Above right: Returning from a summer practice in the 1970s. Below: Practising rescue from ice on a frozen Derwentwater in 2010.

A practice on High Crag in the late 1970s, a horizontal lower. Bob Hodgson is on the stretcher and Steve Jones is the barrow boy.

CMRT 1953–2013 60 years l 23


LOG BOOK ENTRY: Thursday 5th March 1981 / 21.30 Dalehead Team called when party failed to arrive at Gatesgarth and radio signal received by army indicated party in distress. Two Recruits found unconscious due to exhaustion/exposure further five in a bad way. These were huddled and lying near summit cairn feet from the precipice. All party put in stretcher tent where casualties were rewarmed before being moved. Six stretcher cases and rest assisted down. Keswick Team assisted. Party had walked from Keswick via Catbells and High Spy, arriving at Dale Head as darkness closed in and weather deteriorated into a blizzard. Several attempts to find a way off had been made but no way found. It was following one of these attempts that the first man collapsed, closely followed by the second. A timely rescue – another hour or two would have been fatal. Strong winds and driving small snow. / Twenty-one members out plus 15 Keswick members 24 l CMRT 1953–2013 60 years

A PERSONAL ACCOUNT: Perhaps my most memorable rescue of all was the night we rescued the Army. Two NCOs and a group of young recruits had set out too late in the day from Keswick to Buttermere via Catbells, Maiden Moor and Dale Head. The lads, who were not mountain fit, were marched too hard without adequate rest or refreshment stops and without putting on their foul weather gear when it started to snow. By the time they eventually managed to find the top of Dale Head, darkness had fallen and they were all exhausted, but the NCOs did not appear to recognise that they had a problem until the men started to drop in the snow. It was raining when we set off up the valley, but by the time we reached Dale Head it was snowing hard, the wind was up and visibility was poor. When we located the group several of them had collapsed in the snow. We quickly put up a bivvy tent and got them inside to warm them up before carrying them off the hill. We soon had a good warm fug worked up inside the tent and one of the young recruits began to regain consciousness. I was keeping an eye on one of them and as the temperature inside the tent rose, I shed layers of clothing and put them over him. Meanwhile I looked in his rucksack and found uneaten food, a thermos full of a hot drink which had been little touched if at all, and waterproof trousers that had not been worn. When I asked him why these items had not been touched when he obviously needed them, his reply encompassed for me the complete philosophy as well as the vocabulary of the squaddy. “Look’ere mate, when you’re in the f***ing Army, you don’t put your f***ing trousers on till the f***ing corporal tells you”. Dr. Mike Townend


CMRT 1953–2013 60 years l 25


1983:

15 callouts

LOG BOOK ENTRY: Friday 3rd June 1983 / 17.00 hours / Steeple Ridge Team called following reports by walkers that aircraft heard flying low followed by a dull crashing sound. Plane found on west side of Steeple Ridge having flown directly into a cliff. Two occupants dead. Fire Service personnel and equipment needed to cut through wreckage. Team, assisted by Wasdale, brought bodies down. Very wet, low cloud. 20 members out

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A PERSONAL ACCOUNT: The callout came into me just on finishing time at work at Lillyhall. My gear was in the car so I set off directly across to Ennerdale rather than going to the Team Base in Cockermouth. I drove into the valley and up the forestry roads to a high point directly below Steeple. As I parked Clive Johnson also arrived direct and we set off up to the base of Steeple Ridge. It had been a wet day with very low misty cloud for most of the day but conditions and visibility were improving as we gained height. As we headed up we knew the report from the walkers had indicated that the sound of the plane’s engine and the dull crashing sound had come from the west face of Steeple. We made height to the foot of the main ridge route and then headed round to search diagonally through and up the west flank on the mountain. Visibility was now good with the sun coming out and we suddenly saw the tail section of the plane sticking out on a sloping ledge at the foot of a small crag above us.


1983 cost of running the Team:

£13,914 “Fundraising reached a new height and we had little difficulty in raising £10,000 which we spent on a body monitor and a userfriendly defibrillator.”

We scrambled up to the ledge and approached the wreckage of the aircraft. It was immediately obvious from the position of the plane and the extent of the damage to the front section and cockpit that the plane had flown directly into the side of the mountain. The two occupants had sustained severe and extensive injuries in the impact and sadly were both dead. We both concluded that they would have known nothing of their impending fate until it had happened. Clive and I realised that it would be impossible to remove the occupants from the wreckage without the use of cutting equipment which the Team doesn’t carry and that information was radioed out to Cockermouth Base. There was no help that we could give to the occupants so we moved a short distance away from the wreckage and sat in the early evening sunshine to await other members of the Team arriving. Other Team members gradually arrived at the scene and we were advised that members of the Fire Service were following with cutting gear. The Police had given authority for the bodies to be removed from the aircraft and on the arrival of three members of the Fire Service they proceeded to cut away the starboard side of cockpit structure. When an adequate size opening had been made the two bodies were carefully removed. Each was placed into a separate body bag and strapped onto the team stretcher. As I recall the plane had been flying from an airport on the west coast of southern Scotland to Blackpool and had been flying at low level because of the low cloud level in order to have visual contact with the ground. I understand from the findings of the crash enquiry that as they approached the West Cumbrian coast they took a bearing over Workington for Blackpool, wrongly assuming that Workington was Whitehaven and maintained the same altitude as they flew on that bearing and entered the Ennerdale valley. At the altitude at which they were flying with zero visibility there was no way of clearing any of the fells or passes in the valley. Sadly, had they flown on the same bearing, at the same altitude from above Whitehaven they would have cleared the Lakeland fells towards the south of the county. >>> CMRT 1953–2013 60 years l 27


>>> With the assistance of some Wasdale Team members who had now arrived on the scene the stretcher was sledged off the mountain and into the valley bottom. The Team had been informed by the Police that the crash scene would need to be secured overnight for the Air Authority Crash Investigation Team who would arrive the following day. At the time of the incident Jack Park was a member of the Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team and also a serving Police Officer. As he was on duty that night he was ‘volunteered’ by his Inspector to act guard overnight. A couple of Team members stayed at the crash scene while Jack went home for his tent (which was in fact his son’s tent). His son, who had just turned 18 years old at the time and was still at school, said that he couldn’t use his tent unless he could spend the night up on the mountain with him. Jack agreed and both returned to the scene of the crash as darkness was descending. His son’s name was Mike and that evening was the first involvement that the now infamous Mike Park MBE had in Mountain Rescue. Mike officially joined the Team in the September of 1983 and has gone on from being a ‘shop floor member’ to being Team Leader for the last five years. John Bulman

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Above: 1983 annual report cover. Below: Jim (second left) receives a cheque from the National Park voluntary wardens Martin McGrath, Derek Tunstall and Chris Abbot.


Above: Team orienteering practice. Below: Rescue from Scale Force.

“[1980s] saw the use of intravenous fluid replacement and properly administered drugs for all sorts of situations other than just as before, pain relief.”

CMRT 1953–2013 60 years l 29


Exercise on Skiddaw with the RAF. Below right: Spoof picture on RAF with the simulated towing of broken down helicopter! Left: 31st August 1989. Lady scrambling from Low Man to High Man with a male companion, fell about 50 feet sustaining head and leg injuries. She was left alone while her friend went for help. Jim Coyle, in the area at the time, climbed to her assistance and made her secure. A small party was flown by RAF helicopter to the rock. Doctor and winchman lowered with a stretcher. Casualty was flown directly to Newcastle with Dr. Holloway in attendance. She suffered a fractured skull, severe facial injuries and a cracked hip.

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“Our thanks must go to our neighbouring Teams, Keswick and Wasdale, and also the RAF and Royal Navy helicopters, Air Ambulances, North West Ambulance Service, Maryport Inshore Rescue, Cumbria Constabulary, and the Fire & Rescue Service. Without their assistance many of those injured or in distress on the mountains wouldn’t have been rescued so promptly and effectively.”

“We had just sat down to Christmas dinner – crackers pulled – turkey ready to carve – when the ’phone rang. Out went Dad, proceedings were postponed and to my dismay I had to wait until his return before I could open my presents!” CMRT 1953–2013 60 years l 31


Presentation of Long Service Awards. Left to right, standing: Dave Blanden, Team President Maureen Richardson, Rod Moore, Bob Liddell, Steve Jones and Mike Hadwin. Kneeling in foreground: Mike Park. Above: Jim Coyle with his British Empire Medal, presented by John Charles Wade, the then Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria,

RSPCA officials present certificates for sheep rescue to the Team’s Jim Joyce and Michael James and Rusty Westmoreland from Keswick MRT.

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Team honoured Team members Rod Moore and Derek Tunstall are also MBEs


Above: John Turnbull (pictured with his wife Molly and the Team’s John Dempster)

with his British Empire Medal. Below: John Dempster with Wendy and Elsa

and Member of the British Empire medal (MBE).

Jim Coyle with his Distinguished Service Award from Mountain Rescue (England & Wa les)

Mike Park – with his daughters Bramble and Millie – and MBE.

CMRT 1953–2013 60 years l 33


1993:

26 callouts

What is a SPOD?

1993 Cost of running the Team

£21,430 34 l CMRT 1953–2013 60 years

Some eagle-eyed readers of the Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team’s Annual Reports may have spotted a dedication to Frank and Doreen Sippetts and Brenda Treharne on behalf of “The SPODS” and may have wondered just who this oddly-named group could be and how they relate to Cockermouth Mountain Rescue. Could they be an alien race invading the Cumbrian fells or even a new variety of vegetable? Well if you have a minute or two to read on, let me explain. The Spods were formed by a group of like-minded people who visited The Fish Hotel at Buttermere during the late May Spring Bank Holiday week every year to enjoy the scenery and walk on the fells. Although these guests were not acquainted at first, friendships were formed through much banter during Jean Richardson’s magnificent five course dinners at The Fish and after time, the group decided on a name, “Special People of Distinction Society” or the The SPODS for short! An emblem was clearly needed and a banana was chosen in honour of one of Jean’s special dishes, Chicken Maryland. Much fun and games ensued and an Annual General Meeting was held where new SPODS were inducted and a King or Queen elected. (Frank Sippetts was the first SPOD King.) After the meeting on the last evening of the holiday a Spod dance was performed outside The Fish to the great amusement of onlookers. However the happy times were not to last.as, on 24th. May 1992, on a beautiful sunny day, two days after his retirement, Frank Sippetts suffered a fatal heart attack whilst ascending Red Pike with his granddaughter and son-in-law David. Despite David’s efforts, together with those of other fell-walkers and


1990s: “New oxygen bottles, much lighter than the old. They are simple to use, you could call them idiot-proof... they hold more oxygen, 460 litres compared to the old ones, which held.” National Trust workers to save him, it was the grim task of the Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team to bring Frank back down the mountain. It was from this point that The SPODS turned their attention to fundraising for the CMRT and this was done in many ways in their own areas. A sponsored slim, a sale of produce, car boot sales, the sale of hand made jewellery (by Claire Treharne a junior SPOD), knitted banana keyrings to name but a few. There was even a SPODS song which was recorded on tape. Particularly noteworthy fund raising efforts have been made by two SPODS members. Brian Piccolo, who not only made yellow trousers for The SPODS to wear (!) but also undertook a walk from John O’Groats to Lands End which raised many thousands of pounds and enabled the Team to buy its first defibrillator. Anne Martin has also raised thousands of pounds by having t-shirts and coasters printed and making notelets to sell. She has also organised raffles at The Fish, tabletop sales and many other activities over the years, including stalls at Ploughing Matches in the Sussex/Surrey/Kent borders area and has been a staunch supporter and sponsor of the Team for over 21 years. Sadly SPODS members Brenda Treharne and Doreen Sippetts have also since passed away and the group has now dispersed, but I think we can all safely say, “Once a SPOD always a SPOD”, and we will always hold CMRT close to our hearts .So on behalf of The SPODS I would like to offer our congratulations to the Team on 60 years of hard work and dedicated service to the community. A SPOD who wishes to remain anonymous!

A news item about Brian Piccolo, a SPOD, who completed a sponsored walk from John O’Groats to Lands End.

CMRT 1953–2013 60 years l 35


A novel experience for President Maureen on her 60th birthday; a lower down Fleetwith!

1992/3: Pager system alerts all Team members of an incident in seconds

Following a number of fatalities, including two young boys, at Sour Milk Ghyll, the Team worked with the National Park Authority to redirect the footpath, to discourage people from scrambling up the waterfall. 36 l CMRT 1953–2013 60 years


1996: Following heavy snowfalls on the West Coast in 1996, the paramedics were deployed to the mountain rescue base where we operated the Ambulance Service for four to five days.

1995: Goretex jackets purchased

“In the early 1990s radio communication was improved with Phillips PF85 handsets, base transmitters and a radio set in each vehicle... most were provided by the police...[they were] part of the complex array of equipment that included two base transmitters, one in Cockermouth, the other in Ennerdale, with signals fed, via landlines, back to Cockermouth base...There is also an additional transmitter at Gatesgarth, which is the advance base for the Buttermere area. This was bought, and is maintained, out of the Team’s own funds.” CMRT 1953–2013 60 years l 37


1995: “One fundraiser involved the Coop manager at Cleator Moor agreeing to dress up as Father Xmas. He was wheeled round on a stretcher by Team members in their outfits... a dog led the stretcher as though pulling it! A bottle of whisky was raffled and the money raised (£250) was a valuable donation towards the overall cost of £7,000 of a Propaq body monitor. The presentation of the equipment was featured on Border TV’s Look Around.”

Mid-1990s: Bankers orders introduced for supporters to donate regularly

Packing shoppers’ bags at Sainsbury’s every Christmas is a constant means of fundraising and meeting local people.

1997: Merchandise to support the Team 38 l CMRT 1953–2013 60 years


1999: Appeal launched for new base

2000: Casualty care certificates (threeyearly) for First Aid training introduced

Team photograph posed for the 2003 anniversary.

CMRT 1953–2013 60 years l 39


Your support has always been vital

40 l CMRT 1953–2013 60 years


CMRT 1953–2013 60 years l 41


Team sports!

42 l CMRT 1953–2013 60 years


Whatever the weather or time of year, the Team and its members have always been game for a laugh when raising muchneeded funds!

CMRT 1953–2013 60 years l 43


Left: President Jack Jackson cuts the ribbon to open the new base, assisted by Stuart from Sport England.

2003:

35

callouts

New base wins two awards: Civic Trust award for an outstanding building and Allerdale Disability Association award in appreciation of its accessiblity

2003 Cost of running the Team

£30,000 The Team book – shortlisted for the ‘Cumbria Book of the Year’ award – received a commendation from the judges.

44 l CMRT 1953–2013 60 years

Below: Founder members Eric Graves, Gordon Young, Jack Jackson, Pat Tyson (nee Salkeld), and John Millington with John Dempster and Jim Coyle.


The Team approaching the Great North Air Ambulance with a casualty, beside Crummock.

s

2005: New base radio system, with programmable hand and vehicle sets President Jack Jackson, who died in March 2007, with his successor, Maureen Richardson.

2007: Radios supplied to every Team member

2008: New vehicle (mobile 1) named Jack’s Pride after Jack Jackson, past president and founder member. Picture shows Team with Mrs Jackson and Maureen Richardson, Team President.

CMRT 1953–2013 60 years l 45


“2009 will be forever remembered for the terrible floods that swept through the area that November. The rescue effort lasted five days, but it was the scenes in the first thirty-six hours that our Team members will never forget...”

46 l CMRT 1953–2013 60 years


“...When the floods had subsided, the town had visits from the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and others. One of the most memorable visits was from Prince Charles who came to our base to meet those involved in the search and rescue operation. He took the opportunity to speak to and thank most of our individual Team members, a fitting tribute to their hard work.”

CMRT 1953–2013 60 years l 47


“Collection boxes were distributed soon after theTeam’s formation and still perform a valuable function in raising funds.”

2011: New inflatable rescue craft bought by donations after floods.

Entry requirements Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team welcomes applications from fit, active and competent mountaineers. Previous experience should include walking, navigating and climbing in both summer and winter conditions. The required standard for climbing is equivalent to a Lake District V Diff/ Severe grade mountaineering multi-pitch route in all weather conditions. The winter climbing standard is Grade 1/2 gullies. The use of ropes, taking belays, and moving on steep ground whilst wearing crampons etc. is considered essential winter experience. Applicants will be expected to demonstrate their level of competence and skills throughout their probationary period in the team. Applicants will note that the Team considers its primary training role is in the fields of mountain rescue and first aid, not in the skills of competent mountaineering. Applicants are to complete the application forms provided and medical form relating to the driving of Team vehicles. Team Training Officer & Team leader 48 l CMRT 1953–2013 60 years

2009: New lightweight medical body monitor (£5,000) 2010: GPS tracking added to all vehicles 2011: New defibrillator

Below: The Team practising swift water techniques.


2012: 2012 Cost of running the Team

£46,000

61 callouts

For a search dog, the training programme includes learning to hunt an airborne scent, trace the scent to its source, and respond to the find by barking and leading the handler to the source of the scent. The handler’s training is no less demanding, for it is necessary to be able to read the dog’s behaviour and responses; have an awareness of the effects of wind, and a good knowledge of mountain terrain, to know where is the best place for the dog to start the search. If the handler can read the conditions well, the dog is given the best possible chance of finding the missing person. Left: Team member Laura Connolly with search dog Jake.

CMRT 1953–2013 60 years l 49


2013

Hope LED hand light

Insulated Mountain Boots

50 l CMRT 1953–2013 60 years

Paramor anorak

VHF Radio

SAT map


Multi Purpose Brake device

Hope head torch

Modern rescue helmet

Equipment images taken and kindly donated by Michael Lishman (www.michaellishman.com)

Aluminium Ice Axe

Harness with tie off loop

Rope Gloves

Ascender

CMRT 1953–2013 60 years l 51


Website: started in the mid-1990s, now a vital part of the Team’s public face; together with dynamic flyers, banners and annual reports, QR codes and film documentaries!

www.cockermouthmrt.org.uk

Thank you to all our supporters, members and, most of all, to our families. This 60th anniversary report has been compiled from The Team book, CMRT annual reports and the Team’s archive of photos and press cuttings. 52 l CMRT 1953–2013 60 years


Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team

AnnualReport2013 www.cockermouthmrt.org.uk


The Team responsible for rescuing people and animals from the Lorton, Loweswater, Buttermere and Ennerdale areas

Founded in 1953 A registered charity. No. 506956

58th Annual Report Team Officials President: Maureen Richardson Vice-Presidents: Dr. Edward Holloway, Jim Hall, Mike Thompson Chairman: Steve Brailey Team Leader: Michael Park Secretary: Gwyn Lewis, PO Box 73, Cockermouth CA13 3AE, 01900 827771, gwyn@cockermouthmrt.org.uk Assistant Secretary: Simon Woodbury Treasurer: Jeff Haslam Medical Officers: Dr. Mark Steel, Dr. Jo Grove, Dr. Peter Hemingway, Dr Peter Winterbottom, Dr. Tom Gallagher

Assistant Team Leaders: Steve Brailey, Chris Cookson, Andrew McNeil Radio Officer: Richard Greenwood Quartermasters: John Bulman, Russell Butler, Neil Connolly, Chris Cookson, Jim Coyle, Simon Hunter, Andrew McNeil, James Moore, Martin Pickavance, Derek Tunstall Development Manager: Chris Abbot 01946 861963, chris.abbot1953@btinternet.com Collecting Box Co-ordinator: Derek Tunstall MBE Auditor: Gibbons & Co. Honorary Members: Maurice Anderson, George Williams

Call-out List Abbot, C. ................................Bank Manager (Retired) Blanden, D. ..........................Building Surveyor Brailey, S. ................................Local Government Officer Bulman, J...............................Health & Safety Advisor Butler, R. ..................................Teacher Connolly L. ............................Physiotherapist Connolly, N. ..........................Outdoor Instructor Cookson, C. ........................Project Team Manager Cousins, I. ..............................Software Engineer Coyle, J. BEM ....................Estate Manager (Retired) Dawson, P. ............................Headteacher Dempster, J. MBE ..........Headteacher (Retired) Gallagher, T...........................General Practitioner Gerrard, P. ..............................Project Team Manager Goodman, S. ......................Teacher Graham, A. ............................Chartered Surveyor Greenwood, R. ..................Chartered Engineer Grove, J. ..................................General Practitioner Hadwin, M.............................Manager Haslam, J. ..............................ICT Advisor Hellen, R. ................................Dental Practitioner 54 l CMRT Annual Report 2013

Hemingway, P. ..................General Practitioner Hunter, S. ................................Env. Technical Manager Irving, A. ..................................Project Engineer Jones, S. ................................Dental Surgeon Lewis, G. ................................Operations Manager Liddell, R.................................Headteacher (Retired) Lumb, N...................................Outdoor Instructor McNeil, A. ..............................Building Surveyor Moore J. ..................................Chartered Engineer Moore, R. MBE..................Support Engineer Norman, P. ............................Draughtsman Otley, C.....................................Comm. Dev. Worker Park, M. MBE ....................Land Surveyor Pickavance, M. ................Teacher Steel, M. ..................................General Practitioner Steele, C. ................................Teacher Tunstall, D. MBE ..............Mechanical Fitter Twyford, P. ............................Solicitor Whitehurst, S. ..................Orthodontist Winterbottom, P. ............General Practitioner Woodbury, S. ......................Research Technologist


CHAIRMAN’S REPORT Steve Brailey 2013 is a very special year for the Team, a established then for six years. Members of the celebration of 60 years of mountain rescue Keswick team, including Colonel Westmoreland, service. the Fisher brothers and Mike Nixon, attended a Over the last 60 years many things haven’t public meeting in Cockermouth at which the changed; the mountains are the same, the area was divided between the two teams. casualties have the same type of accidents Since then the Cockermouth and Keswick (save the flooding), and there’s all the fundraising MRTs, together with our other closest neighbour that’s required to fund the team’s operation, Wasdale MRT have worked together on many currently £46,000 per year. joint searches and rescues, and an excellent However, all the equipment, vehicles and working relationship continues to develop. In headquarters building are for nothing without the 2012 seven rescues were jointly carried out by team members who volunteer to train, fundraise Cockermouth and Keswick MRTs, and four and take part in the rescues themselves. It’s a rescues with Wasdale MRT. tremendous commitment, not only from the So, in this anniversary year my thanks must team members, but also their husbands/wives/ go to our neighbouring teams, and also the RAF partners and families. It’s really quite humbling to and Royal Navy helicopters, Air Ambulances, see that we have 12 team members with 25 or North West Ambulance Service, Maryport more years of service in Cockermouth team. Inshore Rescue, Cumbria Constabulary, and the With only 22 years of service to my name I feel a Fire & Rescue Service. Without their assistance real youngster for once. many of those injured or in distress on the It’s now over 10 years since our new mountains wouldn’t have been rescued so headquarters was built, and as part of our 60th promptly and effectively. celebrations we are opening In 2012 a report was the building up for a special commissioned for all the Years of service Open Day on Saturday 23rd mountain rescue teams in the Dave Blanden 32 February (details on Lake District, titled ‘Rescue John Bulman 47 www.cockermouthmrt.org.uk). 2020’ The report made some Jim Coyle BEM 53 We want to show how new excellent recommendations to John Dempster MBE 54 equipment and technology has improve the service but Mike Hadwin 26 changed the way we operate in fundamentally stated ‘A key Jim Hall (Vice-president) 41 2013, compared to the 1950s conclusion is that Mountain Jeff Haslam 25 and 1960s when the team was Rescue provision in the Lake 36 called out by a policeman going Steve Jones District is highly effective, Bob Liddell 42 door to door around the town. competent and fit for purpose’. Rod Moore MBE 27 The team was formed in I think our predecessors would Paul Norman 27 1953, conceived by Jack be pleased and proud that the Michael Park MBE 29 Jackson and John Bell, to ease service continues and builds the pressure on the overworked upon their vision and hard And 20 team members with >>> 10 or more years of service Keswick team which had been work. CMRT Annual Report 2013 l 55


Picture: Michael Lishman

>>> Also in 2012 the team was nominated for a prestigious BBC 999 award, in the mountain rescue category. A group of 11 team members travelled down to London in July and in Studio 1 on BBC1 TV our name was called as the overall winner. I’m not sure what Kirsty Young and Lenny Henry thought as eleven characters from mountain rescue joined them on stage, each and every one expecting a kiss from Kirsty! It was great for the team and mountain rescue in general to get the coverage and recognition it deserved on mainstream TV. It was also a night

Gillerthwaite training weekend.

56 l CMRT Annual Report 2013

to remember meeting many famous celebrities. This award was given for the rescue of Edward from Cheshire who slipped and fell 300 feet down Grasmoor front and ended up gripping heather roots above another 100 feet drop. As is often the case a rescue is more than the work of any individual team member, or the whole team; it’s a multi-agency effort, in this case with RAF Leconfield. I’m pleased to say that Edward was successfully rescued and made a full recovery. And, quite simply, that’s really what it’s all about. n


TEAM LEADER’S REPORT Mike Park MBE Last year my report said that 2010 was a relatively quiet year for the Team with 49 callouts. 2012 saw numbers rise again to 61 callouts, a rise that reflects how busy the teams in the Lakes are. Looking through the incident list you can see the common injuries we get to treat year on year. The “usual” lower limb injury, resulting from the “usual” slip on the path, “usually” happening at the end of the day’s activity. But behind these “usual” callouts are individual stories of a Team that is determined to make the “mishap” as painless, comfortable and “enjoyable” as we can considering the circumstances in which we find our casualties. These are maybe “usual” callouts to the Team, but it continues to amaze me how the members go that extra yard to give the casualties the best both medically, (but through jokes and banter), psychologically too. There were however some significant callouts that stand out from the rest. 1) The suspected heart attack on Dale Head, (Incident 16). This gentleman was very fortunate to be walking with/near a group of people, including nurses and medics, who were able to give CPR immediately and throughout the time it took for the Team and Air Assets to arrive and evacuate the casualty. Multi-agency co-operation working at its best. 2) The tragic callout, (Incident 17), for the missing fell runner taking part in the Buttermere Sailbeck Fell Race. Again a multi-team and agency extensive search that unfortunately resulted in the finding of a body the next day. This was a “close to home” callout as many of the Team take part in this particular race. Our thoughts are still with the family of this gentleman. 3) The scout who fell 25feet into Scale Force, (Incident 32), sustaining suspected spinal injuries.

4) The busy day in December, (Incidents 59 and 60). Two callouts within an hour of each other in separate valleys in our area, that resulted in several hours of hard work in full winter conditions, to achieve successful outcomes. There is a disturbing trend looking through the incident list, the increasing regularity that we are being called for “lost” and “stuck” people. In general the “lost” people tend to be individuals that need to carry a map and a compass and more importantly need to spend time learning how to use them. Learning how to navigate in “fell conditions” – mist, fog, rain and darkness, would significantly reduce the likelihood of these incidents happening. Again in general the “stuck” people tend to be the “lost” people who have taken their predicament to the next stage and wandered into bad ground or situations that they cannot safely sort out themselves. Whilst the Team will always come to the aid of the “lost” and “stuck”, these callouts do take up a considerable amount of the Team’s time. If this trend continues to rise, it will eventually take up time needed to carry out the more serious callouts involving injury. “Stuck” people can and do sometimes take it to the next stage... callouts resulting in injury or death. Over half the incidents attended this year occurred on weekdays and during working hours. (This again is an increasing trend which reflects the general public having more leisure time.) However this is a further strain on the already fantastic goodwill team members’ employers give, in allowing “time off” to attend incidents. The Team cannot thank employers enough for the massive support they provide. Callouts are becoming more multi-agency, >>> CMRT Annual Report 2013 l 57


Mike proudly carries the Olympic torch through Cockermouth.

>>> multi-team affairs than they have ever been. The ability not just to work together, but to work well together is a must and not just nice to have. This year has seen a significant growth in this area and for this I have to gratefully thank Cumbria Constabulary, North West Ambulance Service, RAF and RN, Great North Air Ambulance, Cumbria Fire and Rescue and our neighbouring teams, Keswick, Wasdale, Penrith and the Lake District Search Dogs, plus all the individuals within and without Mountain Rescue who continue to help and are not forgotten. This Annual Report includes articles on the BBC 999 Awards and the winter training in Chamonix, so I will only comment briefly here. The Team received a BBC award in August for its involvement in a dramatic rescue in Lorton Gully, Grasmoor. It was fantastic to see the Team receive this award and good for Mountain Rescue to be recognised from a national media perspective. Nine Team members went to the French Alps in late October to receive some pre-winter training. It was satisfying to see this training pay off almost immediately with the callout for a paraglider suck on Grasmoor, (Incident 56), at the end of November. So as a Team we now enter our 60th year. We intend to have a dinner and a get-together for members past and present. I expect that like 58 l CMRT Annual Report 2013

everything that the Cockermouth Team does, this will be a “full-on” affair with much reminiscing, banter and celebration. The Team has no doubt come a long way since the early days of first aid kits in tobacco tins and attending callouts on bikes. We’ve certainly got busier while techniques and technology have changed things immensely, but even having been involved with the Team for less than half those 60 years, I think that I can confidently say that some things have not changed. The Team works and works well through teamwork and a voluntary ethos, where nothing is too much trouble and adaptability is always at the forefront. The Team looks after its own, both within and out. It has always had and it will always have the tremendous support of the local community. Today’s Team stands on the “shoulders of giants” – the people who first came up with the idea of a Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team and made it a reality; the people who followed, both within the Team and throughout the wider Mountain Rescue community; the wives, partners, family and friends that equally make the Team what it is as the Team members themselves. And what’s not changed most of all? For this I thank the current membership and that is the ability to not take anything too seriously, to laugh with and at each other now and always. n


MEDICAL OFFICER’S REPORT Dr Mark Steel Once again we are in the midst of the preparations for the three yearly first aid exam and the doctors and team members are working hard to make this a success. Fortunately this time around we now have 5 doctors in the team which has shared the burden. This is fortunate as, with recruiting problems in my own practice and a consequent increased workload, I haven’t been as available to the team as in past years. For this I would like to apologise to the team, and I am hopeful things will be better in 2013. As last year the number of callouts has been about average. The call out which stands out for me this year was the 17-year-old who fell into the upper reaches of Scale Force in July. Our response required driving the land rovers up the rough track behind Melbreak, then running about a mile up and then down again before climbing up the side of Scale Force. I then had to dodge the descending helicopter winch man who was being lowered onto the path as we arrived and then abseil into the stream bed. The poor lad was soaked, in pain and his friends had had to drag him out of the stream to prevent him drowning. Assessing him, giving him analgesia and then packaging him for the helicopter flight on a tiny gravel beach, was quite a challenge. As was carrying him upstream to find a gap in the trees through which he could be winched. It was a pleasure to meet his friends who had handled the crisis with great efficiency and presence of mind. With regard to new developments this year we have been involved with developing a new hypothermia protocol for the Lake District teams with the LDSAMRA medical subcommittee. This has incorporated developments such as automated cardiac massage devices which allow CPR to be performed while a casualty is

carried on a stretcher. Links have also been developed with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) centres. This technique which has been found to be useful in warming severely hypothermic people more quickly and safely than with traditional techniques, has developed in the wake of experience gained during the recent swine flu outbreak. We have also invested in an airway manikin to improve the team’s practical skills and confidence in using intranasal and other airway adjuncts. We have also introduced Israeli battle dressings to the team which have a handy clip which allows tension to be applied or the direction of wrapping to be changed. They also have another clip which allows the dressing to be fixed without fumbling with safety pins or tape. I am hopeful that with these dressings I will never again see a head wound dressing blowing away in the down draft from the helicopter! n

Call out in Mosedale.

CMRT Annual Report 2013 l 59


Picture: Michael Lishman

RADIO OFFICER’S REPORT Richard Greenwood

Radio communication in Ennerdale.

60 l CMRT Annual Report 2013

The Team’s radio systems continue to play a vital role in search and rescue operations. Each Team member has his or her own personal radio, our Land Rovers are fitted with more powerful sets and we have an installed network of base stations in the Buttermere and Ennerdale valleys. Using the MR map system on the base computers, our control room operators can see in real time where Team members and vehicles are located; we can even sometimes find the location of a lost person from their smart phone via the SARLOC system. All this is a far cry from 60 years ago when flares and thunder flashes were used as recall signals. Some Team members joined the Civil Defence Association so that they could “borrow” radios and the only use of anything electrical on the hill, other than a torch, was a two stroke powered generator and lamp carried on a pack frame. Our current analogue VHF system is nearly 10-years-old and thoughts are turning to replacement. Other agencies make extensive use of digital technology, such as the Police and Ambulance Service’s Airwave network, and it may be that Mountain Rescue starts using systems like these. However we have often seen the benefits of having our own independent radios and I suspect that we will continue in this vein for many years. In 60 years time, who knows, maybe we’ll just beam those lost souls directly back to Cockermouth base! n


DEVELOPMENT MANAGER’S REPORT Chris Abbot This is my 18th report and I feel extremely proud to be part of a team that has helped so many people in varying circumstances over the years. We continue to have a high profile, no more so than during the past year with our Team Leader, Mike, trotting down Main Street carrying the Olympic Torch. I was in Northumberland for a few days and watching it on TV where Mike’s grin seemed to fill the whole screen. Our base was the venue for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Tea Party which was of course interrupted by a callout. The local library rather jumped the gun by holding an exhibition displaying the Team’s Diamond Jubilee, but it acted as a taster for our celebratory weekend in February 2013. Talks to schools have continued and it is so rewarding to see the pupils’ enthusiasm, especially if Laura allows her search dog, Jake, to join us. I found it moving too when a lady who lost both her husband and her son within six weeks, thought about us through donations on both occasions. Back to celebrations, I received an invitation to celebrate a couple’s Golden Wedding and included in the invitation were the words, “Without Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team there would be no celebrations”. We must certainly have done something right on that rescue. The BBC 999 Awards gave the country a chance to share in our pride in receiving such a prestigious tribute. The evening was very special and at times an emotional experience. The following day “Blue Badge Guides” were no match against our Union Flag carrying Chairman who guided us through the streets of London to view and enjoy the sights of the capital.

Our Christmas cards, courtesy of Trevor Green.

Oh yes and I nearly forgot… A business woman ordered 300 of our Christmas cards last year to send to her clients. Just a thought for you for this year! I thank most sincerely those who have supported and continue to support us to help others in time of need. All being well we should have a brighter stand at future Agricultural Shows, so please come along and have a chat and keep in touch with us on our web-site. n CMRT Annual Report 2013 l 61


Incidents 2012 1 7 January Lady reported with a fractured ankle in Mosedale by Melbreak. Casualty transported by Team vehicle to land ambulance at Kirkstile, for onward transport to West Cumberland hospital. 2 6 February A female from Buckinghamshire slipped on ice near the bottom of the Scarth Gap path near Buttermere lake, resulting in a suspected broken ankle. She was treated by the Team Doctor and stretchered by the Team to a waiting ambulance at Gatesgarth. The Casualty was transferred to West Cumberland Hospital. 3 15 February Called by Police regarding a reported missing 31-year-old male, from Ulverston, believed to be walking in the Buttermere Area. Male was located by the Police at a friend’s house. Four members were alerted, but didn’t go on to the hill as car location was unknown. 4 18 February Party of five reported themselves stuck on Grasmoor summit in icy and wintry conditions. The party eventually made their way off the hill via the Lad How’s route, where they were met by three Team members. All were unhurt. 62 l CMRT Annual Report 2013

5 19 February Report of a female from the Penrith area, collapsed with chest pains near Graystones summit, Whinlatter. The Team attended the scene and treated the casualty, before lowering the casualty down the fellside by stretcher to an ambulance in Whinlatter pass. Casualty taken to West Cumbria Hospital. 6 15 March A 19-year-old male from Sussex, walking on the coast to coast route, reported himself with an ankle injury, somewhere above Black Sail, Ennerdale. He was met by Team members and escorted off the hill. He was taken by the Team to Keswick. 7 15 March A party of two from Peterborough reported themselves lost in mist on High Stile area, Buttermere. They eventually found a path and caption Call-out to one, go here Melbreak.

made their own way down safely off the fell. On the way down they also met up with another group. 8 24 March Man walking in the Anglers Crag area in Ennerdale, had a panic attack when his party lost the path on relatively steep ground. By the time the Team arrived, the party had successfully made their own way down to the lakeshore path and required no further assistance. 9 28 March A 69-year-old woman from Cheshire was walking from Honister to Haystacks when she tripped and cut her head, also sustaining a back injury. She was treated at the scene and stretchered by the Team to our vehicle, then driven to meet a land ambulance at Honister Mine. Call-out two, Scarth Gap.


10 6 April Two walkers reported themselves lost above Crummock water after a long walk. Walkers eventually made their way to High Park house, near Crummock water. They were taken by vehicle by a Team member to Buttermere. 11 12 April A collapsed male walker was reported near Gatesgarth Farm on Buttermere lake shore. Casualty was taken to a land ambulance before the Team arrived on scene. He was reported to have fainted. 12 18 April Report of a male person cragfast somewhere above Fanny Mercer’s cross on front of Fleetwith Pike. The casualty was assisted from the crag and walked off the hill to Gatesgarth uninjured. 13 21 April A fellrunner, a 42-year-old male fallen and injured near Robinson summit. The Team responded to the incident. The casualty was assisted from the

fell down to Honister pass and the Team was then stood down.

evacuated from the mountain by helicopter and taken to hospital at West Cumberland.

14 23 April A 23-year-old female was reported with a back injury near to the summit of Starling Dodd, Ennerdale. She was attended to by Team members and taken by Great North air ambulance to West Cumberland hospital.

17 29 April The Team were called to search for a missing male fell runner taking part in the Buttermere Sailbeck Fell Race. An extensive search took place in darkness and poor weather conditions by Cockermouth and Keswick Teams and search dogs. Nothing was found.

15 27 April The Team was called to an incident near the summit of Grey Knotts, Honister. A male was reported with a broken ankle. Members from both Keswick and Cockermouth Team responded to the incident and the casualty was flown by air ambulance to West Cumberland hospital. 16 28 April A male was reported as collapsed with a heart attack near the summit of Dale Head. He was given CPR at the scene by a passing medic then assistance from the air ambulance paramedic. He was resuscitated and

18 30 April The Team resumed the search at first light for the missing fellrunner. An RAF helicopter located a body in the Scar Crags area, below Crag Hill. He was winched from the scene and taken to Carlisle hospital 19 30 April The Team was called by North West Ambulance Service at 19:00 to assist with a 71-yearold male, suspected heart attack on SW side of Buttermere Lake. Despite treatment from First Responders, NWAS paramedics and the Team, it was not possible to revive the >>> casualty.

Call-out five – Whinlatter.

CMRT Annual Report 2013 l 63


20 7 May 75-year-old woman from Wigan slipped on path at Third Gill Sailbeck area, Buttermere. Team members attended and treated the casualty. The casualty was taken to an air ambulance which had landed at a convenient site nearby. She was taken to West Cumberland hospital. 21 10 May A 64-year-old male from the Wigan area slipped on the Crummock Lake shore path and was reported with a broken leg. An air ambulance was unable to assist due to poor weather. He was attended to by Team Doctors and members at the scene and stretchered out to High Park, at the north end of Crummock Lake. The casualty was taken by road ambulance to West Cumberland hospital. 22 22 May Call to search for an overdue female walker on walk from Wasdale to Buttermere over the high fells. Person was due by 7.30pm but hadn’t arrived by midnight. Cockermouth Team, with assistance from Wasdale and Keswick Teams were called to search. A text was received at 21:30 hrs from the lady that she was above Buttermere making her way down. The lady arrived at Dalegarth, Buttermere at 01:15 hours tired but unhurt. 23 28 May A female was reported with a broken wrist on the Gable to Windy Gap path. The Team responded, members from Keswick MRT also in 64 l CMRT Annual Report 2013

attendance. The casualty was taken from the scene by Great North Air Ambulance to West Cumberland Hospital. 24 3 June A 49-year-old female fell walker slipped and fell whilst descending from Dent Fell sustaining a fractured ankle. The Team stretchered her to an air ambulance which was able to land 100 metres from the casualty site. 25 6 June Three sheep stuck on Great Round Howe, Buttermere. All three sheep successfully recovered. 26 28 June Two walkers reported themselves to the Police as unable to locate the Youth Hostel in Ennerdale whilst walking near the North end of Ennerdale water. They were located by the Team and given guidance. 27 5 July A 23-year-old from Cheshire became crag fast on Great Round How. He was lowered from the crag by the Team to safety and escorted of the fells. 28 11 July A 67-year-old female walker was reported with a broken ankle near Lothwaite area, Sale Fell She was treated at the scene by the Team and carried to the road ambulance for onward transfer to hospital. 29 19 July The Team was called after a 73-year-old walker with heart problems was reported overdue. He turned up safe and

well before the full Team was mobilised. 30 20 July A 16-year-old member of a Duke of Edinburgh group from the Plymouth area slipped and sustained an injury to his ankle whist descending towards Buttermere Moss on the first day of his expedition. He was treated at the scene by Team members and carried off the hill. 31 21 July A 60-year-old male fell on the Moses Trod path sustaining a suspected broken ankle. He was treated on scene and carried by both Cockermouth and Keswick MRT up onto Gillercomb Head, where he was transferred into the Great North Air Ambulance and flown to West Cumberland Hospital. 32 22 July A party of four from the Nottingham area became lost in the Loft Beck/Seavy Knott area of Ennerdale. They were found by the Team, escorted off the hill and transported to Keswick. 33 22 July A 17-year-old from a Duke of Edinburgh group fell 25 feet into Scale Force, Buttermere sustaining spinal and other injuries. He was treated by the Team for suspected spinal injuries, lifted onto a stretcher, then winched into a Royal Navy Sea King from Gannet and flown to West Cumberland Hospital. 34 26 July The Team was requested by the Police start a search for a missing person suffering from


Alzheimer’s in the Broughton Moor area. He was spotted by a member of the public and collected by the Police, then assessed by an ambulance crew.

Call-out 38 – Scarth Gap.

35 6 August A 57-year-old man from Peterborough slipped on the path descending from Seavy Knott in Ennerdale. He sustained a suspected fractured / dislocated ankle. He was treated on scene and carried by the Team down to the GNAA where he was taken onto Carlisle Hospital. 36 7 August A 61-year-old woman from Oxfordshire fell on Scale Knott above Crummock sustaining a suspected ankle fracture. She was treated at the scene, stretchered down to a Team Landrover and taken to an ambulance at Kirkgate Farm, Loweswater. 37 11 August A family of four, including a sixyear-old boy and 10-year-old girl, from Oxfordshire became stuck on a ledge in difficult ground whilst ascending Melbreak. The Team set up a lowering and hauling system and successfully rescued the family members one by one from the ledge. All were then escorted down to the valley safe and well. 38 13 August A 77-year-old woman from London fell on the descent from Scarth Gap sustaining a suspected fractured ankle. She was treated at the scene by Team members and doctor,

then stretchered down to an ambulance at Gatesgarth. 39 19 August Sheep stuck on a ledge just right of the climbers descent on High Crag Sheep removed from the crag 40 21 August A Duke of Edinburgh party of nine became lost in the Pillar area. As the Team was mobilising the party was located by the group leader and walked down to Wasdale Head.

MRT, Keswick MRT and search dogs started a search in the Honister to Loft Beck, Ennerdale area. The two turned up safe and well at Gatesgarth, Buttermere and were taken by MRT vehicle to Borrowdale. 43 7 September Two walkers reported themselves lost in mist on Starling Dodd and unable to find the path to Red Pike. They were located by members of the Team and walked down to the valley.

41 23 August Sheep stuck on ledge on Great Round How. Team member lowered onto the ledge and then Team member and sheep lowered to the ground. Sheep released.

44 13 September The Team was called to assist Keswick MRT with a female casualty with a broken ankle at the top of Grains Gill. The casualty was treated at the scene and carried down to an ambulance at Seathwaite.

42 31 August Two walkers aged 50 and 73 were reported overdue at 10pm at Borrowdale on a walk from Ennerdale Bridge on the Coast to Coast path. Cockermouth

45 15 September A 60-year-old female reported she was near Black Sail Pass having slipped, hurting her feet and exhausted. She was found near Pillar and stretchered >>> CMRT Annual Report 2013 l 65


>>> down to Wasdale by Cockermouth and Wasdale Teams. She was transported back to her B&B. 46 26 September A 56-year-old female walker from Northants developed breathing difficulties whilst coming off Red Pike, close to the bottom of Scale Force. She was treated by Air Ambulance medics and Team members at the scene and then flown by the Air Ambulance to Carlisle Infirmary. 47 29 September The Team was called by the Air Ambulance to assist them with a female who had collapsed near the summit of Red Pike. The casualty was stretchered by Team members to the Great North Air Ambulance and flown to West Cumberland Hospital. The Team also walked the rest of the party off the hill and transported them to their car.

48 6 October The Team, along with other Lake District Teams, was asked to assist in the search for a missing girl in Mid Wales. The Team was requested for the Sunday, but was stood down by North Wales Police on the Saturday evening. This incident received nationwide press coverage. 49 7 October Two walkers aged 24 and 28 from the Hull area became stuck in Lorton Gully, Grasmoor. They were roped from the gully and walked off the hill by the Team. 50 8 October The Team was called to assist Penrith Team in the Cargo area of Carlisle for a missing 69-year-old male. The man was located during the night, unfortunately deceased. The Team was stood down.

51 12 October A lady informed the Team that her 34-year-old son was overdue from a walk from Buttermere village. He turned up unharmed two hours overdue, at the Bridge Hotel in Buttermere. 52 21 October A person was seen floating face down in River Derwent in Cockermouth. The Team was called by the Police to assist, then stood down. 53 21 October Two walkers phoned for help when they couldn’t find the way down from Red Pike to Buttermere. They were talked down by the Team leader to the correct descent path from where they safely walked down to Buttermere. 54 25 October Report of two climbers stuck on east side of Pillar Rock. Father and son climbing Slab &

Call-out 47, Red Pike.

Call-out 59 – Fleetwith Pike.

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Notch rock climb on Pillar Rock. Son’s knee became stuck in crack whilst on the second pitch. The pair managed to release the knee after an hour. The Team arrived at the pair at the bottom of the climb. The casualty was winched from the hill by Sea King helicopter from RAF Boulmer and transported to Carlisle Hospital for further treatment.

safely move up or down. Team members lowered the casualty from the snowy ground and walked him off the hill. 57 29 November A 53-year-old lady from the north east slipped whilst descending steep grass on her way down from Robinson to Buttermere Moss. The Team treated her on scene and she was carried by stretcher to a waiting ambulance.

55 27 October A walker slipped on ice on the High Level Traverse between Robinson’s Cairn and Looking Stead, hitting his head. The Team was assisted by Wasdale MRT. The casualty was evacuated by sea king Rescue 122.

58 2 December The Team was called by the ambulance service to assist with the recovery of a male casualty on the Hay just east of Cockermouth. The Team carried the casualty to the Great North Air Ambulance.

56 29 November A male was walking up Grasmoor with the intention of paragliding from the summit. He became stuck in snow in Red Gill, and was unable to

59 8 December A walker from the Wigan area dislocated his shoulder whilst ascending Fleetwith Pike, Buttermere. Conditions underfoot were snowy and icy.

His shoulder was treated by a Team doctor and he was then lowered on a stretcher to a location where a Navy helicopter from Prestwick was able to winch him and fly to Carlisle Infirmary. 60 8 December A male slipped whilst descending from Pillar mountain to Wind Gap, resulting in a long slide down snow. He suffered injuries to his elbow and ribs. He was carried off the hill by the Team, assisted by Wasdale MRT and by RAF Leeming MRT Team members who were in the area. 61 31 December A 59-year-old woman from Leeds was taken ill whilst ascending Melbreak, above Loweswater. She was treated by the Team, stretchered from the hill and then flown to hospital by the Great North Air Ambulance. Call-out 59 – Fleetwith Pike.

CMRT Annual Report 2013 l 67


THE 2012 BBC 999 As I write this report, rain lashes down, the ground is a saturated mess and all I can do is console myself with memories of the time when we mingled with celebrities, and the world seemed a star spangled, glittering fantasy. When I joined the team 14 years ago I never dreamt it would lead to this sort of adventure. Few know how the Grasmoor front rescue from November 2011 came to the attention of the BBC 999 awards, but if the team were to be nominated for an award you couldn’t have picked a better example. This was a rescue that depended on every team member pushing themselves to the limit. A rescue in which all the equipment needed for success had to be carried speedily a thousand feet up Grasmoor’s steep and unstable face: A rescue in which every team member responded selflessly, seeming to know just what to do with few words needing to be exchanged. The BBC first required us to assist in making a short film to tell the story of the callout and the team. Mike, Steve B, Russell and I provided the “talking heads”, an interesting and repetitive process in which the director patiently searched for punchy sound bites in my mumbling stutterings! It was also the first time I have worn make-up. Honest! The next day a valiant attempt was made to re-enact the November call out in May, and in a place where the camera crew where happy to walk to! We were then invited to attend the Award ceremony in July at BBC Television Centre to see if we had won an award. As the iconic centre is soon 68 l CMRT Annual Report 2013

Above: Very smart! With the presenters of our prize, Julia Bradbury and John Barrowman. Right: Outside the Houses of Parliament, in more relaxed gear.

to close, it was an opportunity too good to miss. So nine of us gathered in Penrith early one Monday morning and boarded the train clutching dinner jackets. This was to be a black tie event, and very smart we were to look too! We were met at Euston station and driven to the Hotel where the nominees for the 999 awards were gathered, but as we were “Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team on tour” we made sure we had


AWARDS

had a couple of pints first! After a buffet we were briefed on the programme of events and what to do should we win an award. We were led to believe that there were several other hotels being used to brief even more nominees. We then boarded minibuses to BBC centre with Steve B making a welcome appearance having nobly travelled back from Nice complete with bike bag and Mike also joined us having travelled down on a later train. London was buzzing with Olympics fever and the taxi driver was dreading the expected congestion caused by the priority traffic lanes. We were dropped at television centre in an endless stream of buses and waited in the foyer for our turn to walk the red carpet (a moment sadly, in my opinion, cut from the finished show). While waiting, we watched TV monitors announcing the imminent arrival of celebrities such as Dame Kelly Holmes, and Arlene Phillips. “There must be some big show on as well tonight” we naively thought! We were lead into the back of a studio and served canapés and champagne. We mingled with the other nominees and suddenly became aware of familiar faces entering the room and talking in small groups. Now I must admit celebrities are not my forte and we struggled to put names to the faces having to be content with identifying only their shows such as Holby City, Strictly Come Dancing or Dragons’ Den. Gradually the celebrities were enticed to come and talk to us, Derek and Chris Abbott managing to pin Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team lapel badges to most! We met Gloria Hunniford and John Craven which went well despite one of us thinking he had presented Screen Test in the 1970s (it was actually Michael Rodd! Oops!) By now it had become apparent even to me that if we were here, we had won an award! The show >>> CMRT Annual Report 2013 l 69


>>> itself was presented very professionally by the boisterous Lenny Henry and the beautifullyvoiced Kirsty Young. We were seated on two tables right in the middle of the audience. I was sat next to Nick Knowles from DIY SOS, Tamsin Greig the actress, and, from Holby City, Harri Dhillon and Bob Barrett! I remember making sure I applauded enthusiastically, smiling and looking serious at appropriate moments as cameramen weaved through the audience to get close ups of the prettiest of us. (Not me!). The show included incredible stories of heroism and bravery such as a policewoman who dragged a man out of burning car, a young lad who intervened when a young girl was attacked and stabbed, and a paramedic dropped by helicopter onto a beach with the tide coming in, I began to feel anxious that our story wasn’t of the same standard as these but when they played our film and I saw and heard the audiences reaction these worries were banished and I remember feeling very proud to belong to, and represent Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team. Our prize was presented by John Barrowman, and Julia Bradbury and they with Steve B in his acceptance speech, made it clear that Mountain Rescue was provided by volunteers, funded by charity and on call 24 hours a day, every day. This seemed to come as a surprise to many and making this point on prime time TV, to me justified the whole experience. As we left the stage for publicity shots, never one to miss an opportunity, one of us suggested repeatedly to John Barrowman that he should include the team in an episode of Dr Who! (Eventually, exasperated he pointed out his series was Torchwood!) Another oops! After we were lead back into the show, we could relax and listen to the rest of the stories, some harrowing, 70 l CMRT Annual Report 2013

Amazing – I’m taller than Kelly Holmes! Steve, Jeff, Derek, Kelly, Mike, me, Jim and Phil. And with the famous police box from Doctor Who.

some inspirational. I particularly recall a 999 controller who talked a young father through the resuscitation of his drowned child, a firefighter who organised the UK response to natural disasters such as the Haiti earthquake, and the footballer Fabrice Muamba’s miraculous recovery from 78 minutes of cardiac arrest in March. At the end we had the chance to mingle with the celebrities. Oh how I wish I had that time again. If only I knew who they were and who was there I am sure I could have done better. If only I subscribed to OK magazine! Unfortunately even when I catch an episode of “Strictly” or “I’m a Celebrity” I never recognise anyone! Still the highlight to me was meeting double gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes and finding out I was taller. Unfortunately I then went on to tell her! Oops. After the show no one felt like an early night and I think most of us were


up to 2am in good spirits talking to the fellow award winners. One of us had a further adventure through the night involving a sleep walk, a lost room key and a naked trip to reception, but as they say “what happens on tour, stays on tour”! The next morning we were up at 7am and then off to the Houses of Parliament where we met our friend Lord Dubs, who, after volunteering to be a body on one of our practices, promised to show us around should “we be in town”. Well we certainly were in town and what an experience it was, not only from the historical viewpoint but also in giving us an insight into the workings of our Parliament which, especially living in West Cumbria, seems very distant at times. Lord Dubs was very helpful and suggested ways in which we could raise the profile of Mountain Rescue’s concerns. The security arrangements were also impressive but despite this

John Craven and Gloria Hunniford with Chris.

Tamsin Greig with Mike and Steve.

the police were very polite and friendly and now sport CMRT lapel badges as well! The tour ended with the honour of a coffee on the Lords’ terrace which also provided a unique view of the London bridge surroundings. Afterwards we had a few hours to fill in before our train left so we tried to have ourselves photographed in front of as many London landmarks as possible before visiting the new war memorial to Second World War bomber crews. Steve B made a fine tour guide with his union flag on a stick! Sleep came easily on the train journey home. This was just as well, as pausing only to collect my son, who had just returned from a school trip, we set off that night for the northwest Highlands to start my summer holidays properly. I finally found some kind of peace the following afternoon in a 10-foot rubber boat, fishing for mackerel in the Minch! Mark Steel CMRT Annual Report 2013 l 71


The call came at midnight; a fell walker had not returned from a walk that had commenced in Wasdale and planned to finish in Buttermere via the high fells. The walker had given an ETA of 19:30 hours and as the time after this target elapsed her husband had become increasingly concerned for her well-being. The Team was briefed in the Control Room at our Base; the couple were camping at Dalegarth, Buttermere and she had been dropped off in Wasdale by her husband who was to meet up with her at the camp site when she returned. We were divided into small teams and given specific roles and tasks to perform. My role was to enquire with the wardens at Dalegarth to determine whether the lady had returned to the camp site and also to check their tent in case she had gone directly to it.

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What the rescuer saw It was a lovely May night, calm and warm – just right for a night out on the beautiful Buttermere fells. The Team Leader had asked the husband to travel to Lorton where it was known that mobile telephone signal strength was good so he could text his wife and subsequently advise us if he received a response. As we journeyed down the valley we met him at an agreed rendezvous in Lorton for a situation update. As the Deputy Team leader spoke with him a text, sent by his wife at 2130 hours, was received stating that she was on the fells above Buttermere; this was welcome news as it narrowed the search area down. Whilst the operation was on-going he was to remain in situ so we could contact him by phone to advise of developments. On arrival in Buttermere I duly spoke with the wardens at Dalegarth centre but alas, there

was no news of the fell walker. As instructed, I set off for the camp site to check the tent in which they were camping; the husband had given us specific information of the type, colour and pitch location. Walking through the grounds with torch beam scanning for the tent I was considering the multitude of possibilities that might have occurred to this ‘damsel in distress’. Nearing the tent I noticed the entrance flap was pegged in the open position and, just inside the main dwelling area, was a scantily clad lady, half in a sleeping bag, staring ahead at me. I suspect she assumed I was her husband and was intending to make amorous amends for her late return. The sleeping bag was hastily lifted to the base of the chin covering essential parts of the torso; just as well it was dark to hide two sets of blushes! All’s well that ends well. Steve Jones


Training in Chamonix

Above: On the ladders from the Mer de Glace.

Historically, the Team’s winter training has taken place over a weekend, in the Scottish highlands. The intention has been to help keep winter mountaineering skills up to scratch, both on a personal and Team level. In recent years, the ‘poor’ winters have meant, more often than not, a wet grey windy traverse of the Aonach Eagach ridge or similar. Also, due to the timing of ‘any’ Scottish winter conditions, the trip has taken place in late February – early March. Considering its purpose of ‘brushing up’ skills in time for ‘our’ Lake District winter, the timing could be better too! So, the training committee put its thinking cap on, and in October, nine of us headed off to Chamonix for an organised programme of winter mountaineering. We set off from Cockermouth at 2.00am on the 27th, and once we had finally ‘navigated’ our way into the long stay car park at Liverpool Airport we headed for checkin. Obviously, we had a lot of shiny

spiky heavy gear with us, and needed extra baggage (which we had prebooked). Unfortunately, the well-known orange airline omitted to make it clear that although we had paid for extra bags, we hadn’t paid to put anything in them. Some serious gear reshuffling and donning of extra layers and heavy mountaineering boots eventually saw us on the plane and off to France…. The conditions were mostly excellent. We had a cloudy misty day followed by two days of dawn ‘til dusk sunshine and blue skies. The fells were quiet, being very early in the season, and there was plenty of varied snow and ice to go at, with a fresh snowfall just before we arrived leaving a deep layer of powder on the rocky ridges. The training entailed three full days working in small groups with four English guides. They were excellent, and worked hard to ensure we got out of the trip what we required as a Team. On arrival in Chamonix on the Saturday, the whole group had a run up to Montenvers Station and back, in the sleet and snow to break us in. It’s about 1,100 metres ascent and I wouldn’t recommend it with le Big Mac and pomme frites on board! Day two, and our first with the guides, was blustery in the valley with CMRT Annual Report 2013 l 73


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Left: Avalanche training. Above: Ice climbing on the glacier.

high winds high up and this combined with a 60cm dump of snow overnight closed the Telepherique lift to the Aiguille du Midi, which had been our primary route of choice into the mountains. Once we all had our salopettes on the right way round, we ascended via the railway instead, to Montenvers and dropped down to the Mer de Glace via the metal ladders. Training on the glacier was in small groups and included crampon technique, snow and ice anchors, tying in and moving together on a rope and some ice climbing in a large crevasse. A good first day in the mountains. Day three started early, after a great breakfast, and saw us all at the top station of the Aiguille du Midi. We were first out along the snow arête off the Midi, which was ‘interesting’ following the fresh snow – very narrow with, shall we say, an excellent view down either side! We descended into the Vallee Blanche and spent the morning on a mixed route over snow covered rock ending at the Cosmiques Hut. In the afternoon, we had an avalanche workshop, with good instruction from the guides, stressing the importance of command and control, to enable organised and accurate searching through an avalanche site. It seemed a long drag through the deep snow of

the Vallee Blanche back up to the Midi, and a few ‘well earned’ beers were drunk that evening! Day four was cold but clear and sunny and after a quick discussion at the bottom of the Midi, we decided to split into two groups. One headed to the mid station and one back to the top. The mid station group worked on some further workshops, covering crevasse rescue techniques, T-axe, deadman, buried rucksack belays and an avalanche transceiver exercise. The top station group descended the ridge again and crossed the Vallee Blanche to ascend various ice and mixed routes in small groups, on the Pointe Lachenal. Both groups had another great day, and the final debrief with the guides at the end of the three days spoke for itself, with all members of the group having gained good experience and knowledge, regardless of their previous winter mountaineering abilities. This was our Team’s first foray into winter training ‘abroad’. The Team members who attended, had mixed levels of winter experience, and it was tribute to the guides’ flexibility, that everyone returned home with new skills and techniques. Was it relevant to winter rescue in the Lake District? Well, less than a week after the trip, I was sitting in a bucket seat anchored to a snow bollard, lowering a ‘stranded’ paraglider from a blank snow slope on the front of Grasmoor – so yes, I believe it was. Finally, thanks go to Dave, Phil and Neil for organising the flights, the excellent accommodation and guides and generally putting the whole trip together. I would certainly recommend it to Team members for next year! Oh and it was Tom who put his salopettes on back to front, Phil who had a ‘major strop’ when he couldn’t think of a pop star beginning with H, and Russell who won the ‘Most Gullible Team Member of the Trip’ award. Andrew McNeil CMRT Annual Report 2013 l 75


Comments from the casualties

Words cannot express my gratitude for all your kindness and selflessness when I fell whilst out walking.

Thanks to you and the Team for the sterling work done during Andy’s rescue from the high level traverse on Pillar.

We are hugely grateful for your prompt, professional, caring and expert response to our call for help.

We really don’t know what we would have done without you all. We were impressed by both the quick response and the professionalism shown by the whole team, to say nothing of the camaraderie and banter which made a potentially traumatic experience much easier.

We were very grateful for the help we received for our friend who slipped and broke her ankle. Not only did the Team help her, you also ferried us back to our car which was most appreciated.

Having experienced first hand the valuable work that you do and subsequently read your Annual Report and checked out your website, we think the dedication and commitment of the Team is amazing. Thank you also for the fabulously positive, good humoured and reassuring way in which my rescue was managed.

We so much appreciated your expert help and were very impressed with your skill and empathy.

I am writing to give you my heartfelt thanks for the fantastic service you gave me. You are absolute heroes in my mind. I shudder to think what might have happened had there been no mountain rescue team.

I know that you do this very vital work on a voluntary basis and are only funded by donations. To this end I enclose a cheque. 76 l CMRT Annual Report 2013


Thank you all!

Above left: Montreal School. Above: Cockermouth School Reunion. Left: Workington Golf Club.

Support the Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team

Gift Aid Declaration Form Charity Reg No: 506956

As a charity Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team can reclaim the tax on any donation you make (providing you are a UK tax payer) and increases its value by nearly a third – without costing you a penny. It is one of the most effective ways to help the Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team members even more, and enable them to continue their rescues.

Please treat the enclosed gift of £___________________________________ as a Gift Aid donation. I confirm I have paid or will pay an amount of Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax for the current tax year (6 April to 5 April) that is at least equal to the amount of tax that all the charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) that I donate to will reclaim on my gifts for the current tax year. I understand that other taxes such as VAT and Council Tax do not qualify. I understand the charity will reclaim 25p of tax on every £1 that I have given.

Mr/Mrs/Ms_____ Full Name________________________________________ Address_________________________________________________________ _________________________________________ Post Code _____________ Signature________________________________________ Date ___ /___ /___ Please notify the Team if you: Want to cancel this declaration / Change your name or home address / No longer pay sufficient tax on your income and/or capital gains. Please treat as gift aid donation as for: (tick all those that you wish to apply) Only this donation □ In the past 4 years □ In the future □ CMRT Annual Report 2013 l 77


Above: Cyclewise presents donations to Cockermouth and Keswick MR Teams. Above right: George Williams receives a cheque from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. Right: Christmas Eve at Sainsbury’s.

Can you help the Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team by giving a regular amount each month or year to help continue their work? If so, please fill in this form:

Bankers Order Date________________

To ___________________________________________ Bank

Address_________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________ Post Code ____________________ Name of Account to be debited _____________________________ Account No___________ Please pay to: National Westminster Bank, 23 Station Street, Cockermouth, Cumbria Code No 01-02-17, for credit of CMRT, Account No 08702349 The sum of ÂŁ __________ in words:____________________________________________ Commencing ____________________________________________ (Date of first payment) And thereafter every _____________________________________________ (Month/Year) Until ________ _(Date of last payment or until further notice) and debit my/our account accordingly Signed ___________________________________________ Date __________________ Please complete and return this form to: Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team (TR) PO Box 73, Cockermouth, Cumbria CA13 3AE 78 l CMRT Annual Report 2013


1761, Cockermouth 4play Cycles, Cockermouth Art & Craft Shop, Cockermouth Banks, Cockermouth Bassenthwaite Sailing Club Bassenfell Manor, Bassenthwaite Belle View Inn, Cockermouth Billy Bowman Music Shop, Cockermouth Bitter Beck Pottery, Cockermouth Bitter End, Cockermouth Black Bull, Cockermouth Black Sail YH, Ennerdale Bleach Green collection box Bolton Gate Old Rectory Bothy, Gillerthwaite Bowness Knott Bridge Hotel, Buttermere Brysons Bakers, Cockermouth Bush Inn, Cockermouth Buttermere Café Buttermere YH Castle Bar, Cockermouth Cockermouth Cricket Club Cockermouth School Coffee and Cream, Cockermouth Commercial Inn, Dearham Crag Farm, Buttermere Croft House B&B Dalegarth House, Buttermere Derwent House Surgery, Cockermouth Derwent Lodge, Embleton Dockray Meadow, Lamplugh Ennerdale YH Fagan’s, Cockermouth Fairfield Garage, Cockermouth Fanny Mercer Firns, Cockermouth Fish Inn, Buttermere Fox & Hounds, Ennerdale Galloping Horse, Harrington Gates Garage, Egremont Gatesgarth Box Gatesgarth Van Golf Club, Cockermouth Grange Hotel, Loweswater Greyhound Inn, Bothel Gun Shop, Workington Harrison’s Butchers, Cockermouth Heals Opticians High Crag Cottage, Buttermere Higham Hall, Bassenthwaite Honister Box

COLLECTION BOXES The Team is very grateful to the people and places who display our boxes. New box holders are very welcome. Please contact Derek Tunstall, who will be happy to supply one, on 01946 861051 or 07841 370644. Honister YH Hundith Hill Hotel, Lorton Inglenook Caravan Park, Lamplugh Jennings brewery shop, Cockermouth Julie’s Sandwich Bar, Cockermouth Junipers, Cockermouth Kingfisher Hotel, Cockermouth Kirkstile Inn, Loweswater Lake District Outdoors, Cockermouth Lakeland Crafts, Buttermere Lifestyle Fitness & Shapers Gym Lifestyle Repairs, Cockermouth Lily & Co, Cockermouth Limelighting, Cockermouth Link House B & B, Embleton Liz Hunter, Cockermouth Low Park, Loweswater Maureen at Gatesgarth Melbreak Hotel Merianda Mitchells, Cockermouth Moota Garden Centre Munchies Sandwich Bar, Cockermouth My Party and Angel New Bookshop, Cockermouth New House Farm, Lorton Number 17, Station Street, Cockermouth Old Posting House, Dean One Stop, Cockermouth Ouse Bridge, Bassenthwaite Paper Shop, Cockermouth Parkside Hotel, Cleator Party HQ, Cockermouth Pet Shop, Cockermouth Percy House Gallery, Cockermouth

Pheasant Hotel, Bassenthwaite Quince & Medlar, Cockermouth Rose Cottage B&B, Cockermouth Royal Yew Tree Inn, Dean Sainsburys (inside), Cockermouth Sainsburys (outside), Cockermouth Scales Farm, Embleton Sheila Richardson Shepherds Arms Shills, Cockermouth Ship Inn, Dovenby Simple Drinks, Cockermouth Ski & Outdoor Warehouse, Longtown Slatefell Stores, Cockermouth Snooty Fox, Uldale Sole it, Lock it, Workington Stork Hotel, Rowrah Swan Inn, Cockermouth Swinside End, Lorton The Brow, Lorton The Howe, Mosser The Old Vicarage, Lorton Tithe Barn, Cockermouth Tourist Information, Cockermouth Travis Perkins, Cockermouth Walkinshaw Garage, Workington Wellington Farm, Cockermouth Wheatsheaf Inn, Lorton Wheatsheaf Inn, Embleton Whinlatter Visitor Centre Whitehaven Rambling Club, Whitehaven Wild Duck, Branthwaite Winder Hall, Lorton Wishes, Cockermouth Woodhouse Guest House Wordsworth Hotel, Cockermouth Wyndham Caravan Park, Cockermouth CMRT Annual Report 2013 l 79


If you need mountain rescue, dial 999, ask for Cumbria Police, then mountain rescue

Text a donation on your mobile phone. Text the message CMRT11 £20 to number 70070, and we receive a £20 donation, simple as that! We are charged no fees for this service so we receive every penny of the amount you donate.

Make an on-line donation via the Charities Aid Foundation website; www.cafonline.org

www.cockermouthmrt.org.uk Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team, PO Box 73, Cockermouth, Cumbria CA13 3AE Design and production donated by Denise Bell & Andy Smith Smith+Bell Design (www.smithplusbell.com) Photography © CMRT; additional work donated by Michael Lishman (www.michaellishman.com)

Printed by: H&H Reeds, Penrith (www.hhreedsprinters.co.uk)


CMRT annual report 2013