Incident 106/2007

No incidents for a while in the team, and then two on the same day.

At circa 11:40, just as he arrived at work from the previous incident, our Team Leader Garry Rhodes, was contacted directly by a GMP Missing Person Search Manager, regarding an urgent search developing in the Horwich area.
A 74 years old man was missing from his Wilsons Fold Farm, Lostock, Bolton, home address and his car had been located approximately 2km away, abandoned on Foxholes Road in the Wilderswood / Montcliffe area of Horwich, on the moorland edge.

He had last been seen at circa midnight the previous evening at his home address and there was concern for his well being, particularly as the overnight weather had been atrocious, with very heavy rain, which had continued late into the morning.

A full team standby page went out at 12:08, closely followed by a full team pager call out at 12:38, for team members to immediately assemble at a search control being set up at the corner of Wilderswood Plantation / Georges Lane, Horwich.


Search control located on the car park at Wilderswood, near to the location of the missing man’s car.

In co-operation with considerable GMP resources, a joint Bolton MRT and GMP search operation was launched, coordinated by our Team Leader, Deputy Leader and GMP Missing Person Search Managers.

This first ’hasty’ initial search phase drew a blank, and more Police resources were drafted in, alongside calls to three other Search and Rescue/MRTs.


Team members receive their briefing prior to setting out on the search areas.

In a major search operation that concluded at midnight, and in very heavy and unrelenting rain throughout the day, Police and civilian searchers, plus family members of the missing 74 year old man, carried out an intensive search operation of the immediate and surrounding areas to where the man’s car had been located, including Georges Lane, Rivington Terraced Gardens, Wilderswood Plantation, the Wallsuches area, Montcliffe, Wilders and Makinson Moors and Bottom O’ th’ Moor.

The intensive search operation that also included a Police Air Support Unit drew a blank, and was scaled down in worsening weather conditions of continuing very heavy rain, with Police enquiries into the missing mans whereabouts continuing.

Throughout the day the following resources were deployed:

  • Bolton Mountain Rescue Team, 34x Call Out list members and three Support Group members.
  • Cheshire Lowland Search and Rescue Team, 6x members.
  • Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue Team, 5x members.
  • Oldham Mountain Rescue Team, 14x members including their Search Dog Unit. (handler Simon Adams)
  • Lancashire Constabulary Air Support Unit helicopter, which carried out a search using its thermal camera and skyshout system.
  • Greater Manchester Police, multiple resources including Divisional Officers, 3x Tactical Aid Unit teams, Missing Person Search Managers, Police Community Support Officers and 5x Police General Purpose Dog Teams.

The entire search operation was run and coordinated from our Control Trailer, utilising our mapping and communications facilities, whilst full catering was provided for all present including the Police from our Catering Trailer, with fantastic help from three members of our Support Group. Shelter from the continuing rain was provided by the team’s air shelter, its first major operational use.

Packing up the control point and cleaning up kit used at our base saw most team members finally getting into their beds by 01:45 on Tuesday morning.

During this search operation, in daylight, one of our team members stumbled on the wet ground in a search area, and was taken to hospital by another Bolton team member, where a fractured lower leg was diagnosed and treated. All the team wish our colleague Steve Nelson a speedy recovery to full use of his leg again (some team members will do anything to get out of a wet days search!)