Julie Hilling, Member of Parliament for Bolton West, joins team tonight for a Mountain Rescue exercise

In early June, Julie Hilling, Member of Parliament for Bolton West, wrote to our Chairman Ken Oakes, introducing herself as the newly elected MP for the Bolton West constituency.

In her letter to our Chairman, she stated, “I regard it as an honour to serve this community. Community organisations and charities play an invaluable part in our community and I promise to do all that I can to support the excellent work that you perform.”

Furthermore, Julie Hilling MP also stated, “I would relish the opportunity to visit and find out first hand all that you do”.

Well, the team didn’t need any prompting, and our Chairman Ken Oakes replied, inviting Julie Hilling MP to our outdoor exercise held this evening.

So, this evening, Julie Hilling, MP for Bolton West, met up with Ken and the rest of the team at our Ladybridge Hall Base/HQ to await a pager initiated-exercise callout. At 19:30, the pagers went off, to alert the team to an exercise incident in the Ward’s Reservoir area of Belmont, with the report of an injured youth accompanied by a family member, with another family member missing.

Julie, alongside the rest of the team, responded to this incident, meeting at the High Brow car park RVP above Wards Reservoir. As team members, including our trainee Mountain Rescue trail dog team and our Water Search & Rescue Unit were assembling, Julie set off with the initial incident party to locate the exercise casualties.

One young exercise casualty was located above the waterfall in Great Gutter, above Ward’s Reservoir, and received immediate casualty care under the gaze of Julie.


Team members prepare the Bell Mountain Rescue stretcher for use at the exercise location

Julie then saw first hand the work of our trainee MR trail dog, as Boris located a second casualty, floating in the water of the reservoir, who for exercise purposes was “deceased”.


WSRU advances towards the “deceased” exercise casualty, Diane Blakeley

With dusk approaching, Julie was able to see our Water Search & Rescue Unit recover this body to the bank side where team members commenced a stretcher evacuation back to the RVP. Julie also witnessed the rescue and recovery of the first casualty from Great Gutter.


Team member Andy Kench tests the water, as the “deceased” casualty is returned to the shore


A second exercise involving a stretcher raise up the steps of the Great Gutter commences


Team members prepare to raise the exercise casualty up the steps at the base of Great Gutter


The boat standing off for safety purposes from the exercise casualty location

By the time everybody had returned to the RVP, darkness had fallen, and Julie took a full part in the immediate post-exercise debrief.

Throughout her evening with the team, Julie was escorted by our Chairman Ken Oakes, and Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE, who took the opportunity to fully describe the work, role and resources of the Bolton MRT in the local area and of Mountain Rescue in the wider national sense.

Both Ken and Garry would like to publicly comment that throughout the entire exercise Julie Hilling MP was a most attentive guest, listened with considerable interest to everything that Ken and Garry spoke about, and constantly commented that she was amazed at the skills and obvious dedication and commitment shown by the team members at tonight’s exercise.

We were left in no doubt that Julie Hilling MP went home tonight with a very good understanding of how Mountain Rescue fits into the provision of Emergency Services within Greater Manchester and Lancashire (and the UK as a whole), and both Ken and Garry are in no doubt that the team now has a very good friend in Julie Hilling MP.


Team members pictured at the end of the exercise, with Julie Hilling MP pictured next to Team Chairman Ken Oakes (left of centre)

Before she left the exercise this evening, Julie thanked the 26 callout list and two support group members who had attended tonight’s exercise, with a special thanks from all present to young Connor Jackson (son on support group member Heather Jackson), who so excellently played the part of an exercise casualty. Thanks also to team member Diane Blakeley who donned a dry suit and acted the part of the deceased casualty by floating in the water.