On eve of walk, see how rescue team have changed

AS organisers and walkers alike get ready to mark Todmorden Rotary Club’s Boundary Walk 30th anniversary, regulars will have noticed some changes.

Calder Valley Search and Rescue, who had initially co-organised walks in the late 1960s and early 1970s, have been involved in the walk revival since the early 80s and have seen a few themselves, as team leader Pete Farnell has noted, not least their name.

“We started as the Calder Valley Moorland Rescue Association, but the name changed to the Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team many years ago to reflect the fact that we were being frequently asked to work in the more urban areas of the Calder Valley and not just the moorland areas.

“In the early days we relied on team members’ own vehicles, especially those members who owned a Land Rover or van! We now have a fleet of three Land Rovers, liveried to look their part as our rapid response vehicles. In addition a Vauxhall Movano van is converted to act as a mobile office on extended searches.

“Communications have advanced remarkably. The older members will tell the tale of a search in the days before the team had radios.

“The people searching were told to get yourself in a position to look at the village sports field at noon, if someone is running clockwise round the field, keep searching, if they are running anticlockwise, come back to base, the search is over!

“These days we have radios which will allow us to talk directly to police or ambulance staff wherever they may be, and a doctor is always at the end of a phone to offer advice to first aiders on the hill, should they require it,” he said.

Initially there was little in the way of specialised equipment, and in the 60s the team were still in the era of ex MOD equipment. These days they have a lot of purpose built rescue equipment which is very light in weight.

Training is much more specialised, with training taking place in a range of specific skills required to operate a modern mountain rescue team.

“All this comes at a cost and our fundraising has to raise much more than in the early days - at one time we operated out of a cupboard under the stairs in the Hebden Bridge Youth House. We could manage on a shoestring budget of a few hundred pounds a year. In 2012 it will likely cost in the order of £30,000 to keep the team running.

“One thing that hasn’t changed is the volunteering nature of team membership. Nobody gets paid for what we do. We give our time freely to help those in need in the hills,” he said.