The Cave Rescue Organisation has always made friends by helping those in need throughout the Yorkshire Dales – but a new scheme has been set up so people really can become “Friends of CRO”.

The scheme was launched at the group’s Clapham headquarters and Zoe and Jon Ketteridge had the honour of being named the first friends.

Zoe was helped by Cave Rescue after falling on Whernside in 2009. She fell 100 metres after slipping on ice, as husband Jon looked on. After rescuers saved her life, the couple have raised money for the group.

The Friends scheme allows people to make a contribution to the volunteers, who are on call all year round to help walkers, climbers and cavers. They also respond to a variety of other incidents.

The launch of the Friends coincided with a visit by the High Sheriff of North Yorkshire, Alexandra Holford, who presented certificates to Zoe and Jon, as well as to a group of local school children who had also been raising money.

She was given a tour of the depot and, after chairman Jack Pickup gave a talk on the history and duties of the CRO, the High Sheriff got first-hand knowledge of the techniques and equipment used in a rescue.

This ranged from learning how to tie ropes and pulleys that allow the rescue team to help casualties from even the trickiest situations, to taking advantage of the depot’s practice facility to abseil. She also acted as a rescue casualty.

The High Sheriff was full of praise for the Cave Rescue Organisation.

She said: “Having been to Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue, I have been impressed by the Cave Rescue Organisation which has been in existence for 77 years and is reputably the oldest cave rescue team in the world – and only one of three teams in the country who cover incidents above ground as well as below.

“They are dedicated to their role – which is unpaid – and have to raise their own funds to purchase and maintain their equipment. Last year they managed to save people from a plane crash. I hope everyone will support the CRO.”

Details about the Friends of CRO can be found at