Bolton Mountain Rescue Team, Annual Team Dinner and Presentation Awards Evening

This evening saw the team holding its 43rd Anniversary Year Annual Team Dinner, with a return for the fifth time to the excellent venue of Dunscar Golf Club, Bolton. Organised very capably again this year by team member Gillian Leigh, (with help from her husband, ex team member and former Deputy Team Leader Ian), the evening’s meal and after dinner entertainment attracted 65 guests. Those attending included virtuall all our Call Out list membership, seven Support Group members along with their partners, seven ex-team members, and team supporters.

Following the excellent meal, our Honorary Life Vice President Tony McNally welcomed all to the evening, gave thanks to Gillian for her organisation of the dinner, thanked the venue for the excellent catering and introduced all to our ’host’ (and entertainment) for the evening, our very own Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE.

Due to family committments this year, Garry was not in a position to present any informal awards (for only the second time in 26 years). Nevertheless, nine formal award presentations were made, which given the nature of our team, generated much humour as Garry recounted tales regarding each award.

This year, nine long service awards were presented to team members as follows:

  • 10 year Long service award certificates, as issued by our regional body the Mid Pennine Search and Rescue Organisation were awarded to
    • Gyles Denn, aged 35, who first joined the team in April 1997, and who has come and gone as his work commiements have varied. He is currently self-employed, and is a former Home Office forensic toxicologist.

    • Chris Greenhalgh, aged 32, who joined the team in February 2002 and is currently a Firefighter with GMFRS at Broughton Fire Station.

    • Alistair Greenough, aged 41, who joined the team in April 2002 and is an A&E nurse at Warrington hospital.

    • Mark Scott, aged 54, who also joined the team in April 2002, and is a senior figure in education at Bolton University (a PhD, in fact)

  • 15 year long service award certificates, as issued by our regional body the Mid Pennine Search and Rescue Organisation were awarded to Gillian Leigh and Diane Blakeley, both aged 44, who both joined the team in 1985 as teenagers undertaking Duke of Edinburgh service work with the team. Since this time they have both left the team and rejoined accumulating over 15 year’s total team service each. They are both currently employed as teachers.

  • 20 year long service award certificate, as issued by our regional body the Mid Pennine Search and Rescue Organisation was awarded to Louise Jorgensen, aged 47, who joined the team in October 1991, to join her husband Paul, also a team member at the time. During her time with the team, Louise has changed her career from teaching to plumbing. Louise’s time in the team has involved, as with many others receiving long service awards tonight, periods of committed service on the team’s council and she also a very experienced Mountain Rescue party leader & search manager.

  • David Marsh, aged 61, received a very special long service award tonight in the guise of a national certificate issued by our Mountain Rescue England & Wales national body, honouring 25 year’s service to Mountain Rescue. Dave first joined the team in August 1976, leaving in December 1981 as family roles took over. Ten years later, in October 1991 he rejoined the team and became our second fully qualified graded dog handler, working his Mountain Rescue air scenting search dog Chi for many years and successfully locating 3 persons over a great many searches undertaken. During his time in Mountain Rescue, Dave has also held officials posts with SARDA. Dave is currently commencing training with his new dog Sascha (Chi having unfortunately recently died) with the intention of training Sascha to become a drowned victim’s search dog. Besides his framed certificate, (thanks to Team President Bob Hutchinson for arranging the framing), Dave was also presented with an inscribed large glass tumbler, also honouring his contribution with both the Bolton MRT and SARDA.

  • The final long service award of the evening presented by Garry Rhodes was to recognise the tremendous achievement of 45 years active duty, almost all in the Bolton MRT, by team member Alan James (General, as he is more commonly known). Alan first joined Mountain Rescue in 1967 in his late teens, becoming a member of Rossendale Fell Rescue Team as it was known at the time. Fed up with journeying to Haslingden, along with a small number of other members, he took the momentous decision to form his own Mountain Rescue team – the rest, as they say, is history. As a founder member of our team in 1968, Alan has witnessed huge changes as the team has grown and developed, and now at a youthful 64 years old, Alan still maintains a position on our callout list and still attends virtually all team callouts and training exercises. Presented by our Team Leader on behalf of the team, and in the presence of his wife Di (an ex-team member), Alan was very humbled to receive a beautiful inscribed glassware plaque. (Many thanks to team Support Group member Gillian Gregory for organising the purchase of this plaque)

At this point, the usual team fun activity of guessing the length of Garry’s speeches tonight concluded having raised £62.00 which was split as usual 50/50 with £31.00 going to team funds and £31.00 to the winner who correctly guessed a time of 41 minutes (and the winner? Ann Thompson, Garry’s partner of nearly 20 years – but they insist that it wasn’t a fix!)

Support Group member Iain Clarkson then presented to the team the framed original of the team’s latest Christmas card design, drawn by Iain’s father Keith Clarkson, which now hangs proudly in our Ladybridge Hall Base/HQ.

The evening’s entertainment continued with our prize raffle which consisted of 44 donated gifts and raised £260.80p for the team with a slightly inebriated Deputy Team Leader Geoff Seddon shouting out the winning raffle numbers….

Our excellent evening concluded with those remaining team members being chucked out into the rain (well the place had to close at some time) just after midnight. Next year’s team dinner is at the same fantastic venue and has been booked for Friday evening 17th May 2013.

Thanks are expressed to Rossendale and Pendle MRT for providing cover for our team area over Friday night and into Saturday morning, allowing us all to have ’one night off’ and indulge a ’little bit.’