Team names its “BM4” Land Rover Mountain Rescue Ambulance in honour of valued team supporter and dear friend Jim Fletcher BEM

On Saturday 25th October 2003 we commissioned into team service our Land Rover Defender 110 TD5 Ambulance MV03KYE ’Bolton Mobile 4’, as a direct replacement at the time for an elderly Renault Minibus operated by the team.

This vehicle, which was our fourth brand new purchased Land Rover in the history of the team, had been obtained on 15th August 2003 from Williams Landrover of Manchester, and the vehicle was modified by Frank Hulton Motor Engineers of Farnworth.

The vehicle was purchased through a considerable donation from our involvement in the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games and from donations from the Sir James & Lady Scott Trust, The Provincial Insurance Company Trust for Bolton & The P Leigh-Bramwell Trust ’E’, to whom we continue to be indebted to.

In October 2011, this vehicle was given a new livery in line with our three new Land Rovers, which had come into service in Spring 2011.

However one thing was missing from this vehicle, a name! It being a tradition in the team to personally name vehicles after those who have very special links to the team.

The three ‘new’ Land Rovers are named;

  • ’Bolton Mobile 1’ PX60EAC, ’Tony McNally II,
  • ’Bolton Mobile 2’ PX60EAA, ’The Mark Mason’,
  • ‘Bolton Mobile 3’ PX60EAE ’Miss Ellen Sykes ’Nellie.’

Additionally all three of these vehicles also carries the titling ‘Sponsored by the East Lancashire Mark Masons’ on each side of their bonnet lines.

At a recent meeting of the Team Council (Our ‘Committee’) we decided to name our BM4 Land Rover in honour of very valued team friend and supporter, Jim Fletcher BEM of Belthorn, Darwen.

We felt this was particularly apt given that Jim had recently with reluctance, closed down ‘The Shed,’ at Belthorn, where over a great many years, for us and a vast number of other charities, Jim has raised a considerable sum of money.

Jim has always turned down (politely) invitations to visit our Ladybridge Hall Base / HQ, so problem number 1 was getting him to our Base / HQ, problem number 2 (Which was very easy in the end) was keeping both Jim and his partner June, completely in the dark over why we were inviting them to our Base / HQ in the first instance!

And so late this morning, in a Team Land Rover, driven by very long serving team member (And former Chairman) Ken Oakes, accompanied by current Team Chairman Craig Lamb, Jim and his partner June were collected at their Belthorn home and brought back to our Ladybridge Hall Base / HQ, after our Team Secretary Gillian Gregory had invited Jim to our Base / HQ to ‘see the team.’

Here upon arrival, a totally unsuspecting Jim and June were met by an ‘Honour Guard’ of fifteen Team Call Out list members, Support Group member Gillilan Gregory, and three of our new ‘Probationary Team Members.’

He was then introduced by Craig Lamb to our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE (The two had never actually met face to face) and fellow team members, but still neither he nor June knew why they were there!

At this stage Craig announced we had a little surprise for Jim, and the doors of our Ladybridge Hall Base / HQ garage were opened to reveal a freshly polished, balloon decorated BM4 Land Rover, with the name ‘Jim Fletcher BEM’ proudly displayed on each side of the vehicle.

This was a truly emotional surprise for Jim (and June) and it took Jim quite a while to regain his composure, at which stage he warmly thanked us for such a “considerate and kind gesture.”

It is true to say all present shared Jim’s obvious emotion and pride in having one of our vehicles named after him.

Jim and June then enjoyed a glass of ‘bubbly’ before being given a tour of our Base / HQ by Craig Lamb, Ken Oakes and Deputy Team Leader Geoff Seddon and Life Vice President / Founder Team member Alan James.

A buffet was enjoyed by all, at which stage Jim’s boundless generosity came to the fore again, when he turned the tables on us and surprised us all totally with a very kind impromptu donation of £150.00 to the team.

Soon it was time for Ken and Craig to deliver Jim and June back to Belthorn, this time in Jim’s ‘own’ vehicle!

On the way, they called in at the Dog Inn, Belthorn, to see Jim and June’s friends, Stewart and Sue Hopkinson, the licensees and some of the regulars (Who all know Jim) where Jim took great pride in showing all his ‘own’ mountain rescue Land Rover. (Thanks to Stewart and Sue for their impromptu £5.00 donation as well)

So ended for us, Jim and June, a memorable day, where we have thanked a very kindly team supporter in a very positive and visible way.

And for those who are wondering, our Minibus currently remains unnamed…