Racing to the rescue

Date: Monday 26th November 2018

THE invaluable work of the mountain rescue teams which operate in Eden features in the columns of this newspaper on an almost weekly basis.

Whether it be a fell walker’s stumble, a party of teenagers lost in darkness on the mountainside or even motorists stranded in deep snow, the reaction of the teams’ volunteers is the same: they race to the rescue whatever time of day or night.

Between them, the Penrith, Kirkby Stephen and Patterdale teams have been called out almost 180 times so far this year. Their expertise is increasingly called on in incidents away from the Lake District and Pennine fells, and they have come to be regarded as an extra arm of the emergency services — but one which receives no public funding.

That is brought into focus by the plans of the Penrith and Kirkby Stephen teams to bring their bases up to modern standards. In Penrith’s case, that is likely to involve the building of a new base, while at Kirkby Stephen the team is seeking to modernise its existing headquarters.

These plans will not be achieved without substantial fundraising, but surely the public will respond to make sure the targets are met. Mountain rescue is an extreme form of public service which involves volunteers performing acts of heroism often well away from the public gaze — and one we cannot afford to be without.

The aim of the Penrith and Kirkby Stephen teams’ proposals is to enable them to become more resilient. This could lead to even greater co-operation with the emergency services which could mean the difference between life and death in some circumstances. They deserve our support.