Rory last week hosted a meeting in Westminster of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Mountain Rescue, which included presentations from David Allan of Mountain Rescue and James Williams of the Medic Alert Foundation, and a wide-ranging discussion of the problems currently facing Mountain Rescue organisations not only in Cumbria, but across the UK. It was agreed that the APPG would extend invitations to government Ministers and other parliamentarians to visit Mountain Rescue teams across the country, to encourage greater understanding of the issues faced by the sector.
Rory , Chairman of the APPG, said: “Mountain Rescue teams across the UK perform an incredibly important role. We are extraordinarily lucky to have such a professional emergency service operating in our mountains and walking districts. The APPG will do all it can to continue supporting this valuable service, and we see raising the profile of Mountain Rescue as paramount. Worryingly, donations – particularly from corporate sponsors – are dropping, and so we need to ensure members of the wider public know how vital Mountain Rescue teams are. In collaboration with the British
Mountaineering Council, a joint initiative has helped to reduce the number of mountain rescues needed, which is great news; but I think there is a wider role to be played by local Mountain Rescue teams, who have the most reliable local knowledge and experience. To look at establishing a network of hostels and refuges, with mountaineering advice and basic guidance along some of our well-used routes, is an excellent idea that the APPG will be delighted to support.”
David Allan, who gave thanks for the recent government grant, which has been instrumental in helping to keep the organisation going following dips in donation and sponsorship, discussed with the group a variety of challenges facing Mountain Rescue teams.
James Williams presented to the group an overview of the work of the Medic Alert Foundation, and stressed the need to raise awareness of the charity’s symbols with emergency services and the general public.
The APPG will now take up a variety of issues raised at the meeting, including raising awareness of the concerning incidences of ‘maverick’ rescue groups that are becoming more prevalent, and which compromise the public’s safety; encouraging Ministers and other Members of Parliament to spend time with Mountain Rescue groups in their constituencies, in order to highlight the valuable work done by the organisation; and to look at arranging a high-profile event in the Houses of Parliament to highlight the excellent work done by Mountain Rescue teams.