Two team members and Trailing Search Dog Boris undertake their HMCG SARH helicopter training this morning at Wasdale Head

Our regular readers will be aware that April 1st 2015 saw the start of the disbandment and wind down of the RAF, Royal Navy / Fleet Air Arm / HMCG existing UK Helicopter Search and Rescue provision, and its total civilianisation under a new long lasting contract, organised by HM Government, under Bristow Helicopters, operated and co ordinated by HM Coastguard.

Brand new state of the art latest generation SAR helicopters, some new location arrangements and all new base / hangerage facilities are nearing total completion nationally, as a phased handover from the existing military / HMCG provision which commenced with RAF ‘E’ Flight, 202 Squadron RAF Leconfield, flying the familiar Sea Kings, standing down on 31st March, and handing over to the new Sikorsky S92A airframes of Bristow / HMCG on 1st April 2015 operating out of Humberside International Airport.

Bristow / Humberside now covers the MPSRO region, as well as the Yorkshire Dales, PDMRO, NESRA and southern parts of the LDSAMRA mountain rescue regions.

With the change over from the largely Sea King SAR helicopter existing provision to the two new SAR helicopter types, all MRT members in England, Wales and Scotland, alongside other agencies such as HMCG Teams, RNLI and similar, have been undergoing specific awareness training (known as Stage 1A, 1B and 1C) to gain familiarity with the two new SAR Helicopter types.

Such a vast undertaking is now progressing well nationally and our readers may recall that on Wednesday 28th January 2015, the first thirty MRT members from MPSRO regional MR teams travelled to Humberside International Airport to undertake their training.

Attending in January from Bolton MRT, was our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE – never one to miss a helicopter flight opportunity and to add a new aircraft type to all he has ever flown in! Call Out Contact Mike Marsh, Equipment Officer Paul Copley, Michael Eddleston, Gary Melia and John Dickinson.
(Please see website ‘News’ report dated Wednesday 28th January 2015 for an account of this day)

Tuesday 24th February 2015, saw the second day of training for MPSRO member teams, with the venue changing to the more local to us site of Bolton Scout Trust, Bibbys Farm Campsite, Limbrick, Chorley (used by the Bolton MRT for our Annual Foundation Course in Mountain Rescue October weekend)

The following Bolton MRT members attended for this second day of training – Deputy Team Leader Chris Greenhalgh, Equipment Officer – Medical Nigel Booth, Phil Horner, Ken Oakes, Mark Scott, Trainee member Neil Haigh, Equipment Officer – Vehicles Neil Aspinall, David Crawford, Life Vice President Alan James, Steve O’Hara, Trainee member Heath Doran and Trainee member Rasti Schweizer.

Please see website ‘News’ report dated Tuesday 24th February 2015 for an account of this day.

Saturday 28th February 2015 saw the third day of MPSRO / MRT member team training with the new helicopter, with the venue once again being Bolton Scout Trust, Bibbys Farm Campsite, Limbrick, Chorley.

The following Bolton MRT team members attended for this third day of training – Diane Blakeley, David Cook, Webmaster Paul Brain, Ged Clarke, Trainee member Matthew Morris, Tony Dawson, Equipment Officer – IT and Communications Steve Fletcher, Training Officer Alistair Greenough, DVSD Dog Handler Dave Marsh, Kris Kilshaw, Gill Leigh, Michael Wakerley, Chairman Craig Lamb, Kris Kilshaw, Michael Wakerley and Phil Crook (our Support Group members Sarah Hindle and Lauara Tunnicliffe were also flown, as thanks from the aircrew for their catering help and support on this third day of training)

Please see website ‘News’ report dated Saturday 28th February 2015 for an account of this day.

Saturday 19th September 2015, saw the fourth day of MPSRO / MRT member team training with the new helicopter, with the venue returning to Humberside International Airport.

Team members Geoff Seddon, Nick Berry, Samantha McKay, Martin Banks and Martin Battersby all attended.
Please see website ‘News’ report dated Saturday 19th September 2015 for an account of this day.

On Saturday 24th October 2015, Team members Chris Tennant, our President Bob Hutchinson, Trainee team member Steve James, Steve Nelson and Elaine Gilliland (Plus Trailing Search Dog Boris) journeyed to the operational area of Calder Valley SRT, who were hosting the intended fifth MPSRO Regional familiarity training exercise with HMCG Humberside.

The training venue was set to be at Green Withens Reservoir Scout Sailing Club, but upon arrival, they were informed that due to the bad weather and operational commitments, HMCG were unable to attend and the exercise was cancelled.

Our colleagues in LDSAMRA – Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association kindly made the recent offer to share any spare training places on their planned SARH HMCG Training with members of MPSRO (Mid Pennine Search and Rescue Organisation) MRTs, and taking up one of these kind exercise offers, was Bolton MRT members Steve Nelson and Elaine Gilliland, who undertook their Stage 1B and Stage1C training this morning at Wasdale Head, Lake District.


Steve and Elaine are familiar to our readers for their work with their Trailing Search Dog Boris, so Boris was also involved in undertaking his flying awareness training with the HMCG Search and Rescue helicopter involved.

The Bolton MRT extends its thanks to Sim Leech of Duddon and Furness MRT / LDSAMRA Secretary who as SARH LDSAMRA Representative, kindly arranged for Elaine, Steve and Boris to take part in this training exercise this morning.