UPPER Wharfedale Fell Rescue helped it's 1,500th person during it's latest call-out.

Graham Sugden, 62, was on a walking holiday in Littondale with his wife when he had a nasty fall, resulting in a call to the Grassington based fell rescue association.

Volunteers had to administer pain killers to Mr Sugden, who had broken his ankle, before he could be put on a stretcher and carried down the fell to a waiting ambulance.

The couple, who had been staying at the Falcon Inn, Arncliffe, had to finish their holiday earlier than expected after Mr Sugden ended up in Airedale General Hospital.

But the retired chartered surveyor, from near Doncaster, said he would never forget being stretchered back down the fell and was looking forward to making a return visit to the association's headquarters.

"What a relief it was to see the ‘cavalry’ coming over the hill to the rescue in the form of a dozen members from the fell rescue team," he said.

"They were so professional and understanding of our predicament caring with my injury. The experience of sledging down the fell strapped to a stretcher with a broken ankle in a splint will stay with me for a long time. I can't thank them enough and I am looking forward to being recovered so I can accept their offer of a visit to the headquarters in Grassington to meet them all again."

The Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association (UWFRA), which has been going for 69 years, last year saw its 50th rescue of a dog.

In its first year of operation, in 1948, UWFRA was called out just seven times - to missing walkers, stranded climbers, one dog, several sheep, and to two cows stuck in a disused mineshaft. Its first year also saw members retrieve the bodies of two people who had died in a light aircraft crash.

Today, the association receives an average of 60 call outs every year.

A recent survey by Ordnance Survey showed that last year, rescue teams in England and Wales dealt with 1,812 incidents - 170 more than the year before. The survey also suggested that around 500 of the call outs could have been avoided.

But UWFRA's Phill Nelson believes visitors to the dales are more safety aware.

"Our own survey shows a much lower percentage and we attribute some of this to the awareness of visitors to the safety measures generated from the tremendous support the team is given by the local media. Our conclusion for many of the call outs was sheer bad luck but of course we totally agree with the survey that ongoing initiatives to educate people on the steps they should take to ensure they enjoy the fells but avoid becoming another mountain rescue statistic."