Incident 24/2015 – Multi team search for a missing person in the Middleton area, Greater Manchester

On Tuesday 20th January 2015, our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE was contacted directly by a GMP Police Search Advisor, regards a GMP missing person search enquiry, concerning a male aged 59, who had been missing since Wednesday 14th January 2015.

The search for this missing person was being focused in the Middleton area of Greater Manchester, around the Rhodes Lodges and River Irk areas.

The North West Police Underwater Search and Marine Unit were already deployed and the likely involvement of mountain rescue was being sought.


Our Team Leader advised the GMP POLSA that this area was within the primary operational area of our colleagues at Oldham MRT, but that a previous search in the exact same area (for a different missing person) in February 2011 – our Incident 19-2011, had involved both Oldham and Bolton MRTs assisted by SARDA resources.

The GMP POLSA then contacted Mick Nield, Team Leader of Oldham MRT, and by the evenings end of Tuesday 20th January, plans were being made to mount a multi team search operation in the area concerned, on Sunday 25th January 2015, to follow on from GMP and NWPUSMU enquiries.

Sunday 25th January, saw our team members assembling at our Ladybridge Hall Base / HQ for an 09.10hrs departure. to meet at the search RVP by Rhodes Lodges, Middleton, for 10.00hrs.


At the search RVP, assets from Oldham MRT, Rossendale and Pendle MRT, the PDMRO Regional Water Team, Bolton MRT, SARDA and GMP met up, to be allocated by Oldham MRT to pre planned search taskings, co ordinated by Oldham MRTs Deputy Team Leader.

Each team present operated a ‘sub control,’ for its own allocated search area – a method well practised within Greater Manchester by the MRTs present, all linked to the main control operated by Oldham MRT.
Bolton MRT organised and arranged catering throughout the days search operation for all teams present, with our Support Group crewing our Catering Unit Trailer, providing hot food and drinks throughout for all taking part.


Members present from all the teams were tasked to search the River Irk, the numerous Rhodes Lodges (6x), Limefield and Alkrington Woods, Alkrington Hall Lake, and open areas around the missing mans home address.

Our SAR Boat was deployed on to many of the Lodges, where we used our Aqua-scope, with water team members searching the margins alongside our DVSD Dog Team.


By 14.50hrs the last search areas had been completed, alongside thorough debriefing reports carried out by Oldham MRT with all search party assets.

With no trace of the missing person located, with the departure of the last MRT assets from the Search RVP at 15.08hrs, the missing person enquiry continues by GMP.

With a very long history of joint MRT search operations in Greater Manchester, regular exercises and liaison meetings, the whole search operation between all the teams present proved to be an excellent example – yet again, of mutual multi team co working.


Thanks are expressed to the co operation of the local angling concerns, and to those members of the public who wished us well in our endeavours.

The following resources were directly involved in this search operation;

  • Greater Manchester Police; 2x PCSO’s, 2x Divisional Police Officers.
  • Bolton Mountain Rescue Team; 30x Call Out list members, 4x Probationary members and Support Group members Dave Rees, Iain Clarkson and Sarah Hindle. Four Land Rover Defender Mountain Rescue Ambulances, call signs Bolton Mobiles 1,2,3 and 4, Ford Transit Minibus, Bolton Mobile 5, and our VolksWagen Crafter LWB Incident Control Vehicle, Bolton Mobile 6. 3.4m semi inflatable SAR Boat and Catering Unit Trailer.
  • Oldham Mountain Rescue Team; 20x members. Two Land Rover Defender Mountain Rescue Ambulances, call signs Oldham Mobile 1 and 2, Control Vehicle, Oldham Mobile 3 and Support Vehicle / crewbus Oldham Mobile 4.
  • Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue Team; 12x members. Toyota HiLux Mountain Rescue Ambulance.
  • Peak District Mountain Rescue Organisation; Regional Water Team, 5x members (including team members from Glossop MRT and Kinder MRT)
  • Rochdale MBC; Countryside Services, 1x Officer.
  • SARDA Wales; Mountain Rescue Trailing Search Boris, Handler Steve Nelson (Bolton MRT, included above)
  • SARDA Ireland North; Drowned Victims Search Dog Sasha, Handler Dave Marsh (Bolton MRT, included above)
  • SARDA England; Mountain Rescue Air Scenting Dog Bob, Handler Mick Neild (Oldham MRT, included above)
  • SARDA England; Mountain Rescue Air Scenting Dog Ty, Handler Steve Ward (Oldham MRT, included above)
  • SARDA England; Mountain Rescue Air Scenting Dog Finn, Handler Steve Garafalo (Rossendale and Pendle MRT, included above)

With the conclusion of this search, all Bolton MRT members present then met back at our Ladybridge Hall Base / HQ, where up to the early evening, all six of our vehicles, our Boat and Catering Trailer Unit were thoroughly valeted inside and out, and catering items restocked.