Great news following the search for Tommy Banks, former Bolton Wanderers and England Player

On Friday evening, 12th February 2016, we played a central role, alongside a great many others, in the successful finding and then assistance to a missing 86 years old man, from the Farnworth area of Bolton (Please see website ‘News’ report dated the same) when he went missing in Blackleach Country Park, Walkden.

Though we knew the identity of this man at the time, we were not able to publish such, without the permission of him or his family.

The Bolton News edition of Thursday 18th February 2016, carried a front page banner headline “Legend Tommy Thanks Rescue Heroes After Falling.”

The comprehensive newspaper article (and its associated website report) revealed publicly that we and others had been involved in the search and rescue of Bolton Wanderers legend player Tommy Banks.

Describing his rescue, the newspaper article mentioned Tommy, a former Left Full Back, had made 250 appearances for the Whites (Bolton Wanderers) an FA Cup Winner and was a member of England’s 1958 World Cup Squad.

On Wednesday 24th February 2016, we reported within our website, that as thanks for our part in the successful search and rescue for Tommy, Bolton Wanderers Football Club Former Players Association had made a very kind £150.00 donation to the team.

On Tuesday 8th March 2016, our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE, received the following kind email from valued team friend and supporter GMP DC Jane Wilcock;

“Hi Garry,

Just a quick hello and thanks as ever for your teams efforts in the success of this search and rescue.
Regards, Jane.”

Jane further attached the below fantastic news regards the search that took place for Tommy, and the honouring of the PCSO Derek Thomas, who actually first found Tommy, by the Chief Constable of GMP.

Derek is a former Member of our Support Group, and a great friend and continuing supporter of the Bolton MRT, and regularly comes across us (or us him!) on searches and rescue operations within his ‘patrol patch.’

All in the Bolton MRT membership add our praises to Derek on this honour made to him;

World Cup Star Rescued

A Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) will be honoured by Greater Manchester Police’s Chief Constable for rescuing an 86-year-old former England footballer who was stranded for six hours while walking his dog in Bolton.

Tommy Banks, who made 250 appearances for Bolton Wanderers Football Club during his career and played for England in the 1958 World Cup, was reported missing at 5:30pm on Friday 12th February after he went out walking his 10-year-old Welsh border collie, Susie, before falling and becoming trapped in Blackleach Country Park.

Tommy followed his dog off into a wooded area before he slipped and became stuck in the boggy undergrowth in freezing conditions.

Spotting a tree around 20 metres away, he dragged himself towards it hoping to use the branches to pull himself up, but he only managed to move 10 metres in six hours.

Local PCSO Derek Thomas who knew the layout of the park, was tied up on another job at the time but was released by his Sergeant to join the search.

TOMMY BANKSPCSO Thomas, who knows the FA Cup winner from his Farnworth beat, was searching the park when he saw Susie barking and shone his torch towards Tommy, who called out for help.

The former Bolton MRT Honorary Support Group Chairman found Tommy collapsed but conscious, being comforted by his dog.

It then took an hour to complete his rescue by stretcher, which was carried out by Mountain Rescue, police officers and paramedics.

Tommy was taken to the Royal Bolton Hospital with hypothermia at 7.30pm and kept in overnight but has no serious injuries.

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said:

“This is a great example of community policing and highlights the importance of our neighbourhood officers and their extensive local knowledge.

“Derek’s dedication saved the life of a popular local character and I am delighted that Tommy is now safe and well.

“His actions that night deserve to be recognised and I am proud to be able to award him with a Chief Constable’s Commendation.”

During the incident Tommy lost a handkerchief that he had kept in his shorts pocket when he first played for England and PCSO Thomas returned to the country park days later to find it, returning it to its rightful owner.

PCSO Thomas said:

“At the end of the day, I knew that I would be able to find him. I don’t know why but I just had a feeling that if I could be released from my duties I had the ability and the knowledge of the area to locate him.

“It’s fantastic to be nominated. The best reward was seeing Tommy safe and well the next day. He’s a great character and a cracking bloke.

“The rescue was a brilliant team effort and I’m grateful to my colleagues for their help in getting Tommy to safety. I’m over the moon to be nominated.”

Tommy, who was a member of England’s 1958 World Cup squad, said:

“Susie ran off into the woods and off over a ridge. I followed her but I slipped and couldn’t get up.

“I saw this tree in a few yards away but I couldn’t move through the undergrowth, I was physically drained.

I was in there for six or seven hours.

“Then all of a sudden I heard Susie barking and saw this torchlight. I picked my head up, I was so relieved. It was so close but it felt a million miles away.

“Then they all started swarming round me with blankets. They were wonderful, absolutely marvellous. I am so grateful. They saved my life.”