Operation Find Santa

This evening our last Wednesday evening exercise of the year saw all the members attending taking part in Operation ’Find Santa.’

Assembling at Lower House Car Park at 19.45hrs on an extremely cold and very icy, clear skies and starlit evening, the 30x team call out list members taking part heard that an elderly gentleman by the name of Nicholas Claus was missing within the Terraced Gardens at Rivington. He was reported to have last been seen wearing a red coat with white fur trimming, and wearing black shiny boots.

Splitting into two seperate search parties, with the Terraced Gardens divided by Roynton Lane into two search areas, the team members went about their search task with their usual enthusiastic attitude.

Various messages relayed back to Search Control recorded sightings of everything but our missing Nicholas Claus, including three wise men, so not team members then !, a shepherd tending his flock by night, and very bright stars in the night sky.

Eventually one party met with success, finding Nicholas Claus, well a twelve inch high paper mache Father Christmas really, surrounded by Christmas Gifts, in the guise of a bottle of Whisky, White Wine, Mince Pies, a Christmas Sponge Cake, and various nibbles.

Eating and drinking their way through their reward for their dilligent search technique and efforts, this first party were then surprised to hear on their radio handsets that the second complete search party had located the ’twin’ of Nicholas Claus, yep another paper mache Father Christmas and another pile of seasonal goodies.

Fortified with whiskey and wine, one party stretcher evacuated our Deputy Leader Geoff Seddon back to our Search control, well Geoff is getting old now ! Not to be outdone the second party were supposed to stretcher evacuate our Chairman Ken Oakes similarly back to Search control, but faced with the XX stones of Ken Oakes and the absolutely zero weight of a paper mache Father Christmas, guess who they evacuated back to the car park on their stretcher ?

The usual post exercise debrief took place in the chilly Lower House Car Park, (more mince pies) before all retired to the Bay Horse at Adlington for some more seasonal cheer and to celebrate the excellent end to another full year of team training on every Wednesday evening.

Also joining the 30x call out list members on the exercise and at the Bay Horse afterwards, were support Group member Gillian Gregory, ex team members Steve Berry, when is he going to finally rejoin ?, Jonathan and Stephanie Holt, and former team Search Dog Handler Dave Marsh and his Search Dog Chi once more back to full health and running around following his terrible injury of summer 2006.

Finally a big thanks to Team Leader Garry Rhodes for kindly supplying all the drinks and food on the exercise and for setting up the exercise.
And Operation ’Find Santa.’ well that stands for Stretcher And Navigation Training Activity ! Who says we have no imagination !