Call Out nr 4, Friday April 4th 1986. A co-incidental meeting.

Our Team Leader Garry Rhodes has come across a considerable number of incidents in his 25 years plus in the team, some he remembers very well others less so. Some have had tragic endings or have been in terrible circumstances whilst others have had a much happier outcome. One incident he still remembers quite vividly is a tragic accident back in April 1986, when he was part of the initial team response to the report of a mid air collision and subsequent crash of two hang gliders and their pilots over Winter Hill.

Garry recalls, “what I always remember as being the most tragic thing was that when we got the call out it was to the report of a mid air collision involving two hang gliders and their pilots, one of whom we were told had crashed onto Rivington Moor and was missing, the other of whom we were told had crashed on to Winter Hill Flats and had suffered a leg injury.” He further relates “We were quite excited going to this incident and I can still remember the banter when we arrived at the RVP which was very suddenly brought to an abrupt end with the terrible and tragic news that the pilot we thought had only sustained a leg injury had in fact died at the scene, and we were now required ’only’ for a body recovery, the other pilot having managed to land safely on the moor and walk away unharmed.

This incident has stayed with Garry through all these years, and in fact he often uses it to illustrate to newer and inevitably younger team members that quite often Mountain Rescue is not that exciting and that what you are expecting to face quite often turns out to be very differant and very sad.

Recently to bring events up to date, a guest entry on our website was placed by the sister of the hang glider pilot who died in this tragic accident, thanking the team for its help on that terrible day over twenty years ago. We also learnt that this woman was part of the new sport of geocaching, whereby objects are very well hidden in locations that can only be located by the very accurate method of tracing them using GPS technology. Furthermore, we were informed of a new location hidden on the summit of Winter Hill that commemorates her brother Will, who died in the April 1986 tragic hang gliding accident. Garry mentioned to the team that he was pleased that after all these years somebody should have the kindness to still remember what we did and write in to the team via our website.

On Sunday 22nd October this year, Garry was returning to his car up at the entrance to Lead Mines Valley at Anglezarke, at the conclusion of the Joint Foundation Course exercise in that location, when a member of the public stopped Garry and enquired as to all the aerials adorning Garrys car (MR, Ambulance and Mobilephone) in the course of this conversation another passing member of the public asked was Garry part of the Geocache Group meeting at this same location?
Garry replied “no” but informed this person that out of interest” there was a new geocache site on the summit of Winter Hill dedicated to the memory of a hang glider pilot who had lost his life there, and that he knew about this from the sister of the pilot who had died, and who had put a guestbook entry onto the teams website,furthermore Garry said he had attended this incident and could still remember even after a twenty gap the incident quite clearly.

Lorraine and Garry meet at last after 20 years

It came as a bit of a surprise and shock to Garry to then be told the woman standing nearby was the sister of the hang glider pilot involved and the author of the team guestbook entry article. The two were very quickly introduced and Lorraine, the woman involved, asked Garry about events on that day so long ago that had so tragically involved her brother. Lorraine also asked if Garry would have his photograph taken with her as a special mememto of the day. The two then parted, with Garry mentioning afterwards how pleased he was to see Lorraine and pass on a little of what had actually happened on that day.

Today the team received a very kind email from Lorraine asking for her message to be passed on to Garry. We are sure Lorraine would have no objection to repeating here some of the contents of her email, particularly as it mentions so clearly what we in the team are all about.

Garry mentioned a geocache dedicated to the memory of someone on Winter Hill. The geocache belongs to us and by sheer coincidence Garry was involved with the incident that the cache ids dedicated to 20 years ago. I am somewhat stunned and thrilled that after all these years I got to meet someone who was involved with my brothers hang gliding accident.

We had a very special day out on the moors, and we managed to complete our 400th cache but the thing that will stand out in my mind was meeting Garry. I still cannot believe that this has happened, talk about being in the right place at the right time.

Losing my brother Will is something that I have come to terms with a long time ago, but knowing someone still remembers the event some 20 years after is wonderful.

I would like to thank him for finding the time to talk to me yesterday. He made our special day even more memorable, and I will rememnber this for a very long time. Thankyou, Lorraine.