North Yorkshire’s Lyke Wake Walk developed such a cult following after it was devised in the 1950s that a decade later it was decided a new organisation was needed to help people who got into trouble on the 40-mile moorland route.
So Scarborough and District Search and Rescue was formed in 1965 with just that purpose in mind, but in the decades that followed demands increased and by the turn on the century the Scarborough and Ryedale Mountain Rescue Team name was adopted to better reflect both the sophisticated range of services volunteers provide and the scope of the territory they cover – the fourth largest area for such a team in the country.
Demand for their expertise has also been growing rapidly, increasing from around 30 call-outs each year in the recent past to 2021, which is on course to be the busiest yet, with a projected figure of around 100 emergencies.
Although the MRT are volunteers, the services they provide are highly professional and police rely on them to help with missing person searches as well as the rescue work they do, helping those who run into problems while enjoying the outdoors.
The team operates from a base at Snainton, near Scarborough, and raises the £45,000 a year it takes to operate the service through its own activities as well as grants and other awards.
Among their fleet of four vehicles is a control unit, used to coordinate multi-agency incidents over a substantial area of the county involving the statutory blue light services, often supported by neighbouring teams and the RAF Mountain Rescue Service.
Around 60 people are involved in the MRT, with 40 of those operational, and the only common ground they have is a love of the outdoors.
They come from diverse backgrounds, but were drawn to the work through their own outdoor pastimes and the desire to help the community.
MRT spokesman Ian Hugill said: “They all have a love of the great outdoors, most are dedicated hill walkers, climbers and mountain bikers. We are all people who are wanting to give a bit back.”
An increasing demand on their time has been to assist with searches for people with mental health problems, such as dementia, searching outdoor spaces on behalf of police.
Happily, an anticipated increase in numbers of people with mental health stresses going missing through the pandemic has not materialised, however, though the rise in overall incidents is thought to be linked to increasing numbers enjoying the benefits of being able to get out into the countryside as lockdown restrictions have eased.
Income for the service, which runs two Land-Rovers and a minibus in addition to the mobile control unit, is generated partly by collections, organised events, gifts left in wills and donations.
Scarborough’s recently formed Run Scarborough club donated more than £4,000 after offering to host a 24-hour endurance event on their behalf.
The MRT’s next self-organised fundraising event is a forest and moors 10k and half marathon, in Dalby Forest, which will take place on September 11.