The idea of Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team was conceived in 1953 by Jack Jackson and John Bell, to ease the pressure on the overworked Keswick team, which had been established for six years.
Members of the Keswick team, including Colonel Westmoreland, the Fisher brothers and Mike Nixon, attended a public meeting in Cockermouth, at which the area was divided between the two teams. More importantly a strong working relationship between the two teams was established.
This original objective to work in harmony has now prospered for over 50 years!
In the early days Syd Graham offered the use of his car with Jennings Brewery allowing one of their vehicles to be used when required. An ex-army Jeep was bought, which was eventually replaced with the Rolls Royce ambulance. The Rolls Royce had been a 1929 saloon car rebodied during the war. When the repairs required outweighed the value it was sold for £75, and a Bedford ambulance was offered by the Steel Works. Subsequent ambulances have been Land Rovers. The Cockermouth Urban District Council agreed to let the Team have a suitable site in Fairfield car-park for a peppercorn rent. Jack Jackson approached several local firms who readily agreed to donate whatever was asked for; there was not a single refusal! Originally the team was to do the building work but a local builder stepped in and team members acted as labourers.
Communications was always a problem; recall signals ranged from an orange sheet on the roof of the ambulance, flashing headlights, flares or car horns. However, when Peter Chandler became involved with the Civil Defence radio section, matters improved. Some of the team members joined the Civil Defence and with the co-operation of Ken Byres, who was in charge at Workington and later joined the team, the team had their own radio section, which was the first in the area. From this simple beginning, today we have one of the best communication networks in the whole of the Lake District.
The team currently consists of approximately forty members who freely give their time to the service of others. These members come form a cross section of backgrounds and occupations such as dentists, engineers, drivers, policemen and teachers. Some are self-employed and include a carpenter and a museum curator. Four members of the team also have Rescue Dogs which are invaluable for search work.
The team works with Cumbria Police and the Ambulance Service. When the need arises we are able to call on the assistance of the RAF Air-Sea Rescue Service for helicopter support, which generally comes from RAF Boulmer in Northumberland. In recent years, air ambulances based in Penrith, Blackpool and Teesside have also available for the Team to call to evacuate casualties speedily from valley locations.
Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team is solely funded by voluntary contributions. Please help the team maintain a good service by giving a donation and completing a gift aid form, or by donating old toner/inkjet cartridges or mobile phones to our recycling appeal.
Visit the New HQ section of our website to see details of our new building and the appeal that raised the £454,973 to build it!
There's also details of our book, 'The Team', written by local author Sheila Richardson to celebrate our 50th Anniversary.