Marking 50 years of rescue team

Members of the Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team
Members of the Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team

The Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team marked the moorland tragedy which led to its creation 50 years ago last weekend.

On November 29, 1965, Robert Akrigg, a 55-year-old reservoir keeper, set out in treacherous conditions to check the water gauges from the Gorple Cottages near Hebden Bridge, but never returned.

Water Board employees accompanied by the police, local farmers and estate keepers were joined by Mountain and Fell Rescue Team members from across the north of England to begin the search

As the week progressed, the search mounted in intensity and by the third day, more than 300 people were searching the moors and stayed from first light until dark without success. With the passing of days, the hope of finding Mr Akrigg alive diminished but the searchers never gave up.

Throughout the search, the wintry conditions were relentless with biting cold wind causing an icy ‘smoke’ over the whole moors.

Tragically, Mr Akrigg wasn’t found during the search and it was only when the heavy snows of that winter receded around two months later that his body was discovered.

As a result of the tragedy, an inaugural meeting was held in early 1966 at Hebden Bridge Council Offices with more than 30 people attending.

At the meeting, Mr Wally Keay, a former leader with Wharfedale Fell Rescue Team, said: “There’s nothing heroic or romantic about being in a rescue team - just five per cent inspiration and 95 per cent hard slogging.

“The first priority of a new team is training in navigation and first aid.”

During this meeting Calder Valley Moorland Rescue Association was formed and they sought the help of Hebden Bridge St John Ambulance Brigade to assist with First Aid training.

On Saturday, February 6, 2016, Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team will be holding a Celebration Service at St Michael’s Church, Mytholmroyd, to mark the team’s 50th Anniversary. For more information visit www.