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Rescue team celebrates 50 years of live-saving in the Lakes

Credit: ITV Border

The Langdale Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team, one of the busiest in the Lake District, is 50 years old this month.

Since 1970 the members have been on 3,730 rescues and seen enormous changes in the way they work.

"Fifty years, it's absolutely amazing," says team member John Shedwick. "You read back into the history of mountain rescue, before our team and how it just used to be a load of farmers, maybe in the pub, who would get a wooden gate and take it up the fells and bring the person down on that."

Often the team's work is life-saving.

"I get to see some of the correspondence from the people who we rescue," says Mark Bains, the Team's Chairman. "You realise that for each of those people it's a life changing moment and one of the most significant things that's ever happened in their lives and there's a pride with that, to have got them out of there and got them safe again."

All the team members are volunteers, giving up their time for free.

Credit: ITV Border

"Everyone gets a personal satisfaction out of bringing that casualty down," says team doctor, Paula Cook. "Everybody enjoys the sense of being part of a team and making something better for somebody."

In its 50 years the team has had 215 members and they've carried out more than 3,700 rescues. That's an average of 74.6 a year or more than one a week.

The team has been involved in all sorts of rescues in very difficult conditions and these days it's needed away from the fells too, like in Storm Desmondwhen members had to rescue people on the collapsed A591 road.

"There was a coach of 23 students and that got trapped in between landslides and we had to drive backwards and forwards three times with the side of Helvellyn coming across the A591," says Deputy Team Leader Andy Caple. "The piles of rock were getting higher and higher on the road and we had to do three trips to get those students from the bus to Grasmere."

The team's achievements were recognised last year when Prince Charles came to tour its base in Ambleside.

Prince Charles visited the team's base in Ambleside in 2019. Credit: ITV Border

Two of the original members from 50 years ago are still very active with the team today, even though Mo Richards had some initial difficulty joining.

"First of all, my husband and I tried to join a climbing club and they would take him but wouldn't take me, they didn't take women. Then we went to a caving club and they said yes Eric can come but no we don't take women. Then I came here and they said exactly the same thing and this time I thought I'm going to stick by this and show them where they are going wrong and here we are 50 years later."

Geoff Bowen now deals with the communications but was formerly a team doctor and describes what it was like in the early days:

"Very little medical equipment, no defibrillators, no intravenous fluids, very little in the way of drugs except I think we had morphine but that was about it so there's been a massive progression and I think this team has been instrumental in leading on a lot of those improvements."

The rescue team has come a long way since its inception but with more and more people visiting the Lake District, fifty years on their role is as vital as ever.

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