Apr 25 2004
Well months of hard work, and last minute feverish activity went into preparing for our grand opening. The invites had long gone out, and the morning dawned with glorious sunshine, and a forecast of more to come. ( thanks to Diane Oxbury for answering our prayers )
With so much pre-planned, what could possibly go wrong ? well as most of us were preparing to leave home for the early morning “lets get everything set up” start to the day, off went our pagers at 08:23 in the morning, for ( unusual at this early time of the day ) a spot pick up assistance call on behalf of GMAS. ( see seperate report )
With that complete, it was all off to LBH ( as we know our base / HQ ) to our many allocated tasks, and to meet our many guests.
As well as the team on show, that is our vehicles, trailers, equipment, members, slide shows, displays, videos and even a powerpoint presentation, and of course our new base and the just finished toilet and shower block ! GMAS brought along a Rapid Response Vehicle, A Paramedic Emergency Ambulance and one of their Decontamination Units.
Our guests were greeted by an excellent pre-opening buffet by the staff at Ladybridge Hall, as well as the continuing very warm sunny weather.
We have yet to work out exactly how many guests attended, but alongside the team members present, over 150 people were there to enjoy the day.
Our principal guest of honour was of course Derek Cartwright, GMAS Director of Operations, alongside a great many other GMAS Training and Operational staff, (including Hazel Kennedy, who has despatched us to many an incident, when she worked in control, and who is now training as emergency road crew).
MP’s David Crausby and Dr. Brian Iddon attended, as did representatives from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, Greater Manchester Police, the Royal Air Force Mountain Rescue Service (RAF MRT Stafford), and represending our colleagues in the NWAA (Helimed 08) was TV personality Paul Crone. A large number of ex team members, including founder member Mike Ainscough and ex Team Leader Derek Mottershead were also present, (we also had another founder team member and current Team Vice President Alan James present ), as well as our Team Medical Director, Peter Durst (An ex SARDA handler and long time friend of the team), Cheshire Lowland SART, Peter Smith and Judy Whiteside from the MRC, a lot of team members parents ( so we were on our very best behaviour), the teams architect and Ex team member Mike Williamson, a very large number of team supporters and sponsors, and even some guests from amongst those we have rescued. Alongside civic dignitaries from Horwich we also had the Mayor and the Town Clerk (visiting of course) from Crowborough in East Sussex, Horwich’s Twin Town.
Finally mention must be made of the many team members partners, children and families who turned up. ( no doubt to see where we hang out at weekends etc.! )
Well just as we were getting ready for the Opening itself, off went the pagers again, and off went three Landrovers and their duty crews to a Call Out, so calm was their departure ( despite our knowing how serious the incident was they were attending ) most of our guests initially thought it was just a demonstration response as part of the days proceedings! ( see the seperate Incident Report )
With a delay until all returned, the Opening Ceremony, commenced with a welcoming address from our Team Leader, Garry Rhodes, and our Chairman, Tony McNally.
Derek Cartwright then cut the Ribbon to open our base, and unvieled a dedication plaque, then presented a very nice speech.
A Prayer of Dedication was then read by Team Member, the Reverend mike Thomason.
A Commemorative Plate was presented to Derek Cartwright by the Team, with a similar presentation to Carol Offer, GMAS Training Manager at Ladybridge Hall.
A final word ( as ever ! ) from our Team Leader, led to the surprise presentation from the team to Tony Mcnally, our Chairman, of a thankyou plaque, for all the hard work Tony had put in making our base a reality.
A raffle raised £157.31, then all our many quests were treated to an excellent buffet within Ladybridge Hall itself.
A number of donations were made on the day, £25.00 from ex team member Richard Hankins, £20.00 from Andrew Rhodes and his family ( our Team Leaders brother ), £100.00 from Mr and Mrs Beswick, stalwart team friends and parents of ex team member Phil Beswick, with Eddy and Karen Crossley presenting Eddys 50th birthday ( see earlier story ) £450.00 cheque donation to the team.
All in all, we the team had an excellent and very memorable day, and one we were delighted to share with everybody who attended.
Of the huge number of photograhs taken, one particularly nice picture was that of current and ex Team Leaders, Garry Rhodes, Bob Hutchinson, Geoff Seddon and Derek Mottershead all proudly standing together, the first time we have managed to get such a photograph of them.
Together with all the photographs and our happy memories of this unique day in the teams history, we also have a guest book which most present got to sign.
An article on the opening, that was published in the Bolton Evening News, is available here