Evening training exercise in Walker Fold area of Smithills

This evening our routine weekly training exercise was based upon an actual incident that took place on Thursday 18th September 2008 (Please see website ‘News’ item Incident 92 – 2008, dated the same) in the very steep sided, thickly wooded rocky valley between Walker Fold and Barrow Bridge.

Organised by our Deputy Team Leader Chris Greenhalgh with help from Team member Mike Marsh, the exercise commenced with a pager ‘Call Out’ message at circa 19.25hrs alerting us to the exercise and that it would be played out in ‘real time’ as if in an actual incident. (With the added intention of allowing some members to experience Party Leadership skills whilst being mentored by more experienced members)

Twenty nine Call Out list members were involved in the exercise, and Support Group member Iain Clarkson.
Our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE was presented with the scenario of an injured young female walker, ‘somewhere’ in the valley area.


Out Trainee Air scenting Dog Handler Paul Chisholm, with Bella, and team member Phil Horner as navigator, were despatched to commence a search downstream in the valley from Colliers Row Road, locally known as the ‘Ciggy Tunnel.’

Two initial search parties were also despatched, with team member Steve O’Hara being ‘dropped in it’ as the overall Party Leader / Incident Team Leader.

NPAS 21 from City Airport Manchester (Barton) then kindly arrived overhead on scene, as part of the training exercise, and commenced a search for the missing and injured woman using the helicopters on board sensors.

Using all these search assets, the injured woman was located, along with (And unconnected with the injured exercise casualty) a deceased exercise ‘body,’ sadly as happened in the real incident of 2008.

Two evacuations then took place, by this time in darkness, involving simple steep ground rope assisted stretcher hauls.

By 21.50hrs all exercise taskings were complete, followed by an on scene hot debrief, as takes place on all our exercises.


The teams thanks are expressed to former Team members Andrew Ryding, who played the part of a Countryside Ranger (No acting needed here, as this is his day job!) and Ana Toole who played the part of the injured young woman.

We would also like to thank the crew of Police Helicopter NPAS 21 and the National Police Air Service, for their involvement this evening.

Finally thanks are in order to the residents of the Walker Fold Farm complex, for their understanding with putting up with our exercise right on their doorstep, and with the local farmers for allowing us to cross some of their pasture land.

Footnote: during the latter stages of tonight’s exercise, a lady visitor turned up at the exercise control to say hello. This visitor, Julie Porter, was the friend of the casualty involved in the original incident of September 2008. Julie raised the alarm when her friend Yvonne Charnock fractured her leg. Julie Porter last visited the team at our Ladybridge Hall Base/HQ on Wednesday 29th July 2009 in the company of Yvonne Charnock, when Yvonne made a donation of £300 to the team following her rescue.