THE scale of the rescue mission for a fellow caver on June 1 led to an unprecedented plea for funding from the Clapham-based Cave Rescue Organisation.

More than 1,600 man hours were used by almost 100 rescuers in the 17-hour attempt to get injured Harry ‘Eski’ Hesketh out from Curtin Pot, on Fountains Fell.

The ‘new’ cave, worked on by Eski and his two caving friends Frank Walker and Ged Campion, was narrow and treacherous; almost impossible for rescuers to access with a stretcher and equipment.

Rock had to be painstakingly chipped away to make sufficient room and afterwards much of the CRO’s equipment was damaged.

That day several teams worked side-by-side the CRO including the Grassington-based Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association, Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team, Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team, Cumbria Ore Mines Rescue Unit, Bradford Pothole Club and the Yorkshire Subterranean Society.

Sadly Eski died before he could be rescued.

David Dennis, spokesman for UWFRA said: “The Dales’ rescue teams regularly support each other on major incidents and we were ready and able to give our full support to CRO both with manpower and equipment. Like all the teams involved we gave our all to try achieve a successful rescue.

“Cave rescues by nature tend to be long and arduous and it is the team spirit through training and camaraderie and most of all sheer dedication that keeps us going through the fatigue, the bad conditions, and of most of all the plight of those we try to save.

“The sense of elation is enormous when a difficult rescue is brought to a successful conclusion with a life or lives saved and knowing that, had we not turned out, lives would have been lost. But we also have to try come to terms with fatalities when they occur and the lows we all feel when we have not been successful

“As volunteers we of course have jobs to go to and it is a case of getting cleaned up and heading to work taking our feelings and utter sadness with us and to try get on with things. The loss of Eski, a kindred spirit, and known and respected throughout the teams has been very hard to accept.”

Immediately after the incident the CRO almost apologetically asked for donations through social media.

Its appeal read: “This incident took in excess of 1,600 man hours, virtually every piece of caving equipment in our stores, and, a large quantity of medication and medical supplies, all provided by ourselves. It also involved us being able to feed and water almost 100 people into the early hours of this morning. Due to the severity and urgency of the situation, a lot of equipment was sacrificed to expedite the potential extraction of the casualty. If you feel that you could assist the team in helping to replenish our stocks and equipment supplies, we would be deeply grateful for any donations to help us out.”

More than £10,000 was donated in the first 24 hours with the total currently standing at £11,642.

The spokesman for the CRO added: “When we decided to ask for donations, we hoped that maybe we could raise £100 to £200 to help towards the costs of damaged kit and replenishing our supplies ready for the next big incident. Instead you have given us so much more, and left us feeling humbled and grateful.”

Both CRO and UWFRA require around £60,000 each annually from donations to continue their 24/7 rescue work.

To donate to the UWFRA go to:

To donate to the CRO go to: