Pop-up cafe set to raise cashfor rescue team’s new base

Date: Friday 22nd December 2017

A BOXING Day pop-up cafe is set to help raise funds for Penrith mountain rescue team as it looks to build a new £700,000 base close to the town’s Kemplay Bank roundabout.

As part of the fund-raising event at Mardale Head car park, Friends of Penrith Mountain Rescue will be serving hot and cold drinks, bacon butties and cakes to hungry walkers and families enjoying a day out at the south end of Haweswater.

A new base is being sought by the team as the present building, near Penrith Old Fire Station, has become too small for the busy team’s needs. It was opened in 1990 by Sir Chris Bonington. The team uses an ever-growing amount of specialist equipment, including water rescue gear, which makes the storage issue, in particular, even more pressing.

Gerry Rusbridge, of the rescue team, said: “One of the facilities we desperately need is a good drying room. At present, after an incident or exercise, we have to dry all the wet gear upstairs in the main meeting room, which is all very well as long as there isn’t a meeting planned.”

It is estimated that around £700,000 will be needed to fund a new base. The exact figure required, however, would depend on definite building costs.

Kemplay Bank, which is also the site of the Penrith community fire station, is thought to be the ideal location as it gives the team the best possible connections with all corners of the patch it covers via the A66, M6 and A6. “We’re really hoping that the wider community will understand the value of the service offered by the team and will be keen to support us,” said Gerry. “The sooner we can raise the necessary funds, the sooner we can make the next big step up in terms of our ability to respond to all the incidents and requests for help that are put to us.

“Once we’ve started the build stage of the project, we’d anticipate something like 18 months to two years of work before we might be able to get the new base operational. At the most basic level, what we need most is more space — and quite a lot more of it. That’s mostly storage space, but also space for training and for managing exercises and incidents.”

Plans for the new base are being worked on in conjunction with 2030 Architects, from Penrith, and it is hoped the final designs will be available in the first half of 2018.

“As a result of years of very successful fund-raising, we already have a significant amount of money set aside for this project, but it’s likely that we’ll still need to raise many hundreds of thousands,” added Gerry. The Friends of Penrith Mountain Rescue group is recruiting new members. Anyone who would like to get involved in supporting the team or with future fund-raising events should get in contact at Friendspenrithmrt.org.uk