After many years of struggling with an old box trailer as a communications base, the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue team has a new incident control vehicle packed with state-of-the-art communications.

It took the team more than four years to raise the £45,000 required, plus many months of setting out a detailed specification both for the vehicle and communications equipment.

The vehicle chosen was a short wheel base 4x4 VW Transporter with off-road tyres and front and rear swivel seats. In addition to the hi-tech communications equipment, the vehicle needed to be able to transport up to four control and communications team members, as well as a specialised heater.

A further development has been the 40 foot electronic mast that is extended by the push of a button – a major technological advance from the days of manhandling an antenna against the elements.

Fell rescue team transport officer Mike Brown said: “It will be such a boost to us to have this wonderful vehicle at our disposal.

“The old trailer was 30- years-old and just had a couple of radios inside and with no heating. It was pretty grim in winter and, as it only had room for one person, discussions with our controllers, the police and other key personnel had to be done outside against the elements.

“We had to make the old trailer work, but it was hard- going. We are all volunteers and whilst we are all willing to go out in all weather conditions on the fells or down caves if someone needs help, I must say we are truly thrilled at the facility.”

The vehicle was supplied by specialist firm James Alpe, of Clitheroe.

Mike, who lives in Skipton and is an outdoor pursuits teacher, said the money for the vehicle came from fundraising events, which were organised and attended by team members and their partners.

“It had, of course, to be in addition to the £35,000 we need each year just to keep going and we cannot thank the local people enough for their generosity.”

The Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association is the third oldest team in the country and consists of more than 80 highly trained volunteers who are on call 365 days a year.

Last year, they attended a record 40 callouts.

The association is also poised to extend its headquarters after being granted planning permission to erect two extensions at The Hut, on Hebden Road, Grassington.