UK Mountain Rescue Conference, The Famous ‘ Seven ‘ Go to Sterling

UK Mountain Rescue Conference, The inFamous ’ Seven ’ Go to Sterling.

This evening saw seven team members at the opening, social, session of the bi annual UK Mountain Rescue Conference, this year held within the excellent campus of Stirling University, Scotland.

Present were our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE, senior team member and organiser of the England and Wales Party Leader Course and Guest Instructor to the Irish Mountain Rescue Association Party Leader Course Mike Marsh, team Medical Equipment Officer Mark Scott, founder Bolton MRT member and still current Call Out list member with 41 years MRT experience Alan James, Trainee team member Elaine Gilliland, Team Treasurer Joanne Stones, and reserve Bolton MRT member Diane Blakeley, who herself has been on many previous MR Conference staffs.

For Garry our Team Leader, it was his 19th MR Conference, whilst for Mark, Joanne and Elaine it was their first Conference. Alan (the General) James meanwhile regailed anyone who would listen with his tales of the very early Conferences in the 1970s which he first attended.

This years Conference celebrated 75 years of Mountain Rescue in the United Kingdom, and was sponsored by The Scottish Mountaineering Trust, Paramo, Nikwax, The Order of St John, Boots Across Scotland Charitable Trust Fund, Shell UK Limited and OSC Mountain Equipment.

Over 300x representatives from Mountain Search and Rescue Teams in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland attended, alongside colleagues from the Association of Lowland Search and Rescue, and international participation from Norway, New Zealand, the USA and the Civil Aid Society of Hong Kong – Mountain Rscue Section, UK Police Forces and the Royal Air Force Mountain Rescue Service.

Friday night saw all in the College Bar, obviously staying sober and all going to bed early !

A 9.00am !, see previous comment, early morning start on Saturday saw the opening address by Fergus Ewing Member of the Scottish Parliament – the Scottish Office providing direct funding for all Scottish MRTs, unlike the situation in England where Governmental funding does not exist – and Sir James Stirling, of the Order of St John. Who in Scotland exist as a charitable trust, donating vehicles to all Scottish MRTs and also provide at full costs base / HQs to Scottish MRTs.

Proceedings then moved on to the presentation of a Distinguished Service Certificate to Jim Coyle BEM who first joined MR as a teenager in 1959, and went on to become Team Leader of Cockermouth MRT for an outstanding 38 years ! as well as serving as a SARDA handler and holding the current office of President within SARDA (Lakes) Last year Jim stepped down as Team Leader of Cockermouth MRT but still continues in the team, and well deserves the honour of this very special Certificate after almost 49 continuous service in Mountain Rescue.

It was then on to a full day of lectures, seminars and demonstrations following various themes, including the latest research on missing persons, water search and rescue, medical issues, International presentations and the future of Mountain Rescue amongst many other interesting topics with all credit to the organisers and speakers.

Early Saturday evening saw a Civic Reception within Stirling University, hosted by the City of Stirling, with the Provost of Stirling, Fergus Wood, welcoming all to Stirling and giving a very sincere thanks to all present for their valued voluntary Mountain Search and Rescue commitment, including a very special thanks to the three Scottish MRTs which cover the Stirlingshire area, very heartfelt from the Provost as he is a hill farmer on one of the local high mountains.

(Inevitably) It was back to the bar and more socialising on Saturday night with Ochills MRT providing an excellent range of guest beers, of course our seven, well Joanne stuck to the wine !, just had to taste their way through what was on offer !

Webmaster – But did Joanne take her well travelled MR wine glass to Stirling ??

It was up early again on Sunday morning, with breakfast easing the hangovers somewhat, a quote from team member Mark Scott who shall remain anonymous, ” it was the fifth pint which did it ! ” and straight into more interesting seminars, lectures and demonstrations.

These included a very interesting account of the Greyrigg Train Incident, by Andy Dell, Team Leader of Kendal MSRT, whose team with assistance from many others played a big role in the search and rescue operation, Aircraft Post Crash Site Management and the latest information on Personal Locator Beacons, from the very person who co ordinates the UK response to such from the Aeronautical Rescue Co Ordination Centre at RAF Kinloss, Scotland, so no better presenter than that.

Participation in the morning also came from the Royal Navy Sea King Search and Rescue helicopter of Gannet Flight, Prestwick, the Scottish Air Ambulance Service helicopter and the British Red Cross Scottish Flood Rescue team.

A buffet lunch brought the Conference to a close, and the four hour trip back to the Bolton area for our seven members, and some much needed catch up on sleep !

All seven wish to express thanks to all involved with the organisation of this years UK Mountain Rescue Conference, to all the speakers for their interesting presentations and to the staff at Stirling University for putting up with us all.

The next Mountain Rescue Conference is being hosted by IMRA (the Irish Mountain Rescue Association) in 2010, in Dublin. Should our lot start their intensive ’Guiness’ survival training now ?