EACH month we have been highlighting a person or group who we deem worthy of being regarded the ‘Salt of the Earth’.

Salt of the Earth, in partnership with North Yorkshire County Council, is showcasing the unstinting efforts people go to in their everyday lives to make someone else’s life that bit better or safer.

This month’s feature shines that spotlight on the heroic efforts played out by members of the Cave Rescue Organisation and the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association.

Both teams are on hand 24/7 to help out people - and occasionally animals - who have got into trouble on the hills, dales and fells, beit night or day and in all weathers.

Several of the members were inspired to join the teams after enjoying the hills knowing help was out there.

Bob Scurr, CRO team member and also team personnel officer said: “For me, I spent the majority of my working life somewhere without hills but spent most of my leisure time in and around hills, mountains, crags and caves.

“It’s a regular phrase used by outdoors people, but I always knew I had the mountain rescue team available if I needed them, and when the time came that I could live and work in the hills it just seemed natural to ‘give something back’ for all that free reassurance I’d had for so many years. So, I volunteer because I can, because I love it plus it’s great to be able to do this with a group of like-minded, skilled and highly motivated colleagues.”

Brian Cowie – CRO team Member and secretary added: “Accidents and incidents happen, and if I’m in that situation, I really hope I will be rescued if I have to call 999

“I have years of caving and walking experience, and being semi-retired and living in the Dales, I’m happy to offer my time to the team. Its good to give something back.

“Compulsory training keeps my knowledge up to date, and its really great to be part of a supportive team who trust each other and work well together. Delivering some of this training / passing on knowledge to others is always rewarding.”

Though both groups operate separately, they often call upon one another.

One rescuee, Steve Finch, from Giggleswick, has been a CRO member but shortly after retiring required their services.

He said: “Last January, descending a rocky track high in the Three Peaks on a mountain bike I fell off; detaching my shoulder and various other ‘added extras’. I had always said that I would never need to call out the team but it was quickly apparent that I would have to do so. The experience was interesting despite being high on a cocktail of painkillers.

“Cave and Mountain rescue teams have always had a culture of ‘just getting on with it’. We turn up when needed, do the job and go home without comment.”

Jo Punt, from Bradford, said all the rescue teams were heroes when she slipped and broke her leg on Ingleborough one April.

She said seeing the rescuers approach was ‘like a scene from Baywatch’.

“They are all heroes, all volunteers. Every time someone needs them they are always there, even if it means leaving their loved ones and going out in the middle of the night.”

Derek Hammond, team controller with the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association (UWFRA), based in Grassington, said 2019 was a busy year with 49 callouts.

“The team is one of the few mountain rescue teams who cover underground rescues as well as the more traditional surface and water incidents.

“To maintain our capabilities, raise funds and carry out our rescues takes a lot of commitment from the 60 volunteers who make up the operational team; last year they have contributed 1,493 volunteer hours to rescues, 3,119 volunteer hours training and 3,111 hours fundraising.

Volunteers also help with fundraising. The UWFRA has its annual Wharfedale Three Peaks challenge on the last Saturday in June while the CRO has the CRO Challenge which can ge found at: https://crochallenge.wordpress.com/

Salt of the Earth is a partnership between North Yorkshire County Council and the Craven Herald to celebrate acts of kindness across our communities. Anyone who knows of someone they think should be featured can nominate them via: SaltOfTheEarth@northyorks.gov.uk