Four years of fundraising have paid off for a Yorkshire mountain rescue team after it took delivery of a brand new vehicle, full of the latest communication technology.
The Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association (UWFRA) spent many years struggling with an old box trailer they towed to major incident scenes to use as a communications base.
But thanks to the fundraising effort, the team now has a brand new Incident Control vehicle packed with state-of-the-art equipment, from Cleckheaton-based Volkswagen Van Centre (West Yorkshire).
The vehicle is a specially adapted short wheel base 4×4 Volkswagen Transporter with special off road tyres and front and rear swivel seats.
Mike Brown, transport officer, at the UWFRA, is delighted with the new vehicle and knows it will provide a vital link between members of the team and other emergency services.
He said: “The old trailer we used was 30 years old and just had a couple of radios inside and with no heating, it was pretty grim in winter!
“As it only had room for one person discussions with our controllers, the police and other key personnel had to done outside in all types of weather.
“We needed a four wheel drive vehicle, but it had to be compact enough to navigate the tracks and pass through the gateways found in the Dales.
“We took months to find the right one and then ensure it had all the equipment we needed along with the capability to navigate rough terrain. Volkswagen’s reputation for ruggedness, durability and reliability meant the Transporter was the perfect choice for us.
“Special thanks must go to everyone at Volkswagen Van Centre (West Yorkshire) in Cleckheaton which has provided UWFRA with the ideal vehicle to use on rescues.
“It could potentially enable us to save lives, especially as we reach the colder months of the year with some of the harshest weather conditions.”
The Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue team, based in Grassington, is the third oldest team in the country and consists of over 80 highly trained volunteers who are on call 365 days a year.
They are one of only three teams in the country who perform both surface and underground rescues – all three are in the Yorkshire Dales.
Mike added: “In 2010 the team attended a record 40 call outs and this year we’re already on course to go passed that total.
“It costs approximately £35,000 to run the team every year and the funds for the new vehicle were in addition to the normal annual costs.
“We cannot thank the local people enough for their generosity and in particular Mark Wheelwright from Volkswagen Van Centre (West Yorkshire) who was really keen to be involved in our major project and gave great support in driving it through for us.
“We are all volunteers and while we’re willing to go out in all weather conditions on the fells or down caves if someone needs help, everyone has been boosted by the extra assistance the Volkswagen Transporter will provide.”
In addition to the latest technology the modified Volkswagen Transporter can carry four personnel and has a 40 foot electronic mast to aid communication.
Andrew Caygill, brand manager at Volkswagen Van Centre (West Yorkshire), said: “The members of the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association risk their lives in sometimes terrible weather to help people in the Dales.
“We’re pleased to have been able to help facilitate this vehicle and hope it provides many years of service.”