Chairman Peter Staples opened the meeting and welcomed member’s to the start of the Forum’s 40th season. He also extended a warm welcome to new member Richard Pugh and mentioned with sadness the passing of former member Richard Barker. Two apologies had been offered.
Secretary Neil Ramshaw reminded members to keep him updated with any changes of personal details.
Treasurer Roy Smith issued an audited Receipts and Payments Accounts for the Forum Year Ending 30th June 2016. He commented on the figures as appropriate and was open to questions on them from the audience.
The first meeting of our 40th season introduced Mr Howard Driver who gave a talk on behalf of the “Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association”. Formed in 1948 the Fell Rescue Team consists of eighty well-trained and equipped volunteers who are on call 365 days a year to rescue cavers, climbers, walkers and also animals. Howard painted a picture of the history and early days of the group and its association as part of the Mountain Rescue England and Wales although entirely autonomous in its daily operations. Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue is one of five separate teams in North Yorkshire with rescue being free but teams have to raise their own finance with no ongoing grant support. Its geographical area is determined by Wensleydale to the North; Skipton–Keighley bypass to the South and Masham in the West.
Its first H.Q. in Grassington “The Hut” was an old Railway Carriage supplemented in time by a Signal Box bought for £10 as a meeting room and for extra storage. In 1978 a purpose-built H.Q. was built and opened by H.R.H. Prince of Wales and this has subsequently been upgraded and extended in recent times. The Group continues to be based in Grassington.
The Group operate in varying weather conditions but particularly wet, cold and misty with casualties often being in difficult locations e.g. open country; high exposed terrain or underground in cramped or almost inaccessible places. Any treatment given has to be fully recorded and we were advised that lower leg injuries were the most common occurrence.
Backed up by an excellent slide show Howard took us through the extensive and thorough training procedures volunteers receive on an ongoing basis; the various vehicles used together with the volume of equipment in use including the different types of stretchers. We were advised about the regular liaison with S.A.R.D.A. rescue dogs and with the R.A.F. and more recently H.M. Coastguard facilitating the use of helicopters. Yorkshire Air Ambulance are another body who interact with the Fell Rescue Association. Many of the rescue scenarios were illustrated and the care and professionalism demonstrated by this dedicated group was apparent.
A lack of time at the end negated audience questions but it was obviously a much enjoyed presentation and a charitable collection was put in place for exiting members to contribute too and this raised approximately £100 (£35 fee and £65 donations)
The Vote of Thanks on behalf of 38 attendees was given by John Taylor.
NEIL RAMSHAW SECRETARY