History was made this week when CVSRT honorary president, Mr Robert (Bob) Uttley MBE retired from the position he has held since 1994 and handed over the reins to president elect Mr David Whitteron.
A presentation evening was held at The Rescue Post where Bob was presented with the MREW Long Service Certificate, by Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Squadron Leader David Dinmore MBE DL RAF (Rtd). He was also offered the role of Lifetime Vice President by CVSRT Team Leader Ben Carter, which Bob gratefully accepted.
At an earlier presentation, Bob was also awarded a Certificate of Loyal Service in appreciation and recognition of service to Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team by West Yorkshire Police. The certificate was presented by Chief Superintendent Dickie Whitehead on behalf of Chief Constable Dee Collins. At the same presentation Mr Whitehead also presented CVSRT with a donation of £2000, which the team gratefully accepted.
During the evening, invited guests and the team enjoyed tributes to Bob from a past Team Leader, Mr Peter Smith OBE and the current Team Leader Mr Ben Carter, followed by a response from Bob. The evening concluded with a formal handover of the role and a ceremonial ice axe to president elect, Mr David Whitteron. Refreshments were served afterwards at the Dusty Miller in Mytholmroyd.
Bob Uttley has been a stalwart supporter of the local community for many years with strong connections to various organistions in Todmorden including; the Choral Society, St Mary’s Church Choir and Walking Groups and is a keen Walsden and Todmorden cricket follower. He was also the captain at Todmorden Golf club in 1973, club president in the early 1990s and ground officer between 1974-1987. Most recently, Bob was awarded the MBE for his services to the community in Calder Valley and Todmorden, West Yorkshire.
His connection with CVSRT was sadly borne out of tragedy when his son Robert was killed whilst climbing Annapurna III in the Himalayas during a whiteout in 1983. Robert had been a member of CVSRT for a number of years. During his tenure, Bob was instrumental in fundraising £100,000 to help build the team’s current base - The Rescue Post in Mytholmroyd, for which we will be eternally grateful. CVSRT would like to take this opportunity to thank Bob for his incredible support over the years and wish him a very long and happy retirement from the role.
We would also like to welcome and introduce Mr David Whitteron as our new honorary president. David is only the third president since the team’s formation in 1966 - Miss Phyllis Oakley was the first.
David is a retired Police Chief Inspector with over 47years with the Police Service – a career that started in 1965 as a Police Cadet and he retired from the service in 2013. He is also no stranger to CVSRT or the area as he was an operational team member during the 1990’s.
During his long and distinguished career where he moved through the ranks from a patrol Sergeant in 1974 and after 18 months in uniform he was appointed Detective Sergeant, where he served on the Drugs Squad in Bradford, CID in Dewsbury, Burglary Squad in Mirfield and on the Western Area Task Force. During that time he was seconded to a number of murder investigations including that of the Yorkshire Ripper.
In 1982 he was promoted Detective Inspector and served in the CID at Huddersfield, before being seconded to Police Headquarters where he was responsible for computerising Crime Reporting then for the computerisation of Major Crime Enquiries. Between 1985 and 1988 he was responsible for the establishment and management of computerised Major Incident Rooms throughout West Yorkshire, utilising the HOLMES system. (Home Office Large Major Enquiry System.)
As a result of his vast experience in this field he was seconded, as a Detective Chief Inspector, to the Home Office, where he became National HOLMES adviser. This work took him around most forces in the British Isles advising them on many murder investigations. During this time he also lectured at the Police Staff College at Bramshill.
He returned to West Yorkshire and resumed uniform duties at Brighouse for a number of years where he was the Local Section Commander. He was transferred to Millgarth in central Leeds in 1996, where amongst other matters he took command of the football Euro 96 Policing Operation in the city. He was initially in charge of uniform policing followed by a period in charge of the CID.
CVSRT would like to take this opportunity to officially welcome David back into the team and wish him well as our new president.
During the weekend of 17th & 18th March, CVSRT provided assistance to our emergency services:
Saturday 17th March
CVSRT were alerted to an incident involving a hypothermic mountain biker at Warland Reservoir who required assistance. The rider had managed to find shelter but was unable to continue with his ride. Five members were deployed to locate the rider, provide casualty care and transfer him to a place of safety.
During the day, weather warnings had been issued for the region and by early evening the wintery conditions began to take hold so CVSRT was placed on stand-by to assist the emergency services if required.
CVSRT received a request from Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) to assist with the evacuation of a casualty who was suffering with chest pain. Ten team members were deployed to the scene to help the crew to transfer the casualty to the ambulance.
Due to the worsening weather conditions, CVSRT members continued to provide emergency assistance throughout the night. Here’s a brief summary:
CVSRT called to assist YAS with the evacuation of an 80yo female from an address in Halifax.
Sunday 18th March
Team members were alerted to an incident at Dean Clough, Halifax where a 64yo male had fallen and sustained facial injuries. CM3 was deployed to find the casualty and transport him to A&E.
CVSRT received a request form YAS to assist with a 77yo male who was having breathing difficulties. Within 15mins the team were on-scene and evacuated the casualty to the ambulance. By 03:00 the team returned to the Rescue Post to wait for the next tasking.
CVSRT received a request from Oldham Mountain Rescue Team to assist with an incident involving a coach with 18 passengers on board that was stranded on Blackstone Edge Road.
CM3 assisted a motorist who had become stuck in the wintery conditions near Scammonden.
CVSRT called to assist YAS with the evacuation of a casualty from an inaccessible residential property. Ambulance crew actually managed to evacuate the casualty themselves, however team vehicles remained close by whilst the ambulance had returned to the main road.
CVSRT received a request for assistance from YAS with the evacuation of a young female who required urgent medical assistance from an isolated location near Hardcastle Crags. Due to the remote location and the urgency, CVSRT requested the assistance of the HM Coastguard from Humberside (Rescue 912).
Once the casualty was packaged and loaded onto the helicopter, she was airlifted to Saville Park, Halifax and handed over to the ambulance crew for onward journey to Calderdale Royal Hospital.
Whilst dealing with previous incident, it became apparent that several vehicles were stuck in the snow with stranded passengers on the A6033. CVSRT members proceeded to move the occupants to a place of safety or turned vehicles around and directed them back down towards Hebden Bridge.
Since the late 1980’s, CVSRT has been fortunate to benefit from the additional support of our four-legged friend – the Search Dog. So far, 16 dogs belonging to Team Members have assisted the team with missing person searches. Search dogs are not restricted to their teams local area and can be called upon to assist with searches anywhere in the country - most notably our dogs have assisted with major incidents in Ireland, Scotland, The Lockerbie air disaster and in Machynlleth, Wales for the April Jones search.
Until recently, CVSRT had five operational search dogs and three trainee dogs, however two of our longest serving dogs, ‘Nell’ and ‘Pepper’ (both border collies) have started a well-earned retirement following more than 10years service dedicated to the team.
'Pepper' (handled by Ellie), spent three years learning her trade, which culminated in her successfully passing a three-day assessment and joined CVSRT as a fully graded search dog in January 2007. She loves people, so finding them is a great game. Combine this with her favourite squeaky toy as a reward and she is more than happy. Her intensive training focused on basic obedience to finding people (bodies) hiding on a hillside and letting Ellie know by barking and leading her back to the person.
'Pepper' and Ellie practiced and trained virtually every day for three years and the results were incredible.
During her working life 'Pepper' has provided a keen nose to many searches, both in the Calder Valley and further afield. As well as assisting in Wales, she has had many outings to the Lake District, Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales. In 2015, a major search was mounted in atrocious weather conditions by multiple rescue teams to locate a missing walker in the Lake District. It transpired that he had fallen from the summit of Helvellyn and unfortunately did not survive the fall. 'Pepper' and Ellie were deployed to assist fellow search teams and successfully located the man who had been missing for several days. Thankfully not everyone 'Pepper' has found were so unfortunate: over her working life she’s had five finds, two of which were on consecutive searches. 'Pepper' is looking forward to a long and happy retirement.
'Nell' (handled by David) passed her assessment in Snowdonia and joined CVSRT in March 2006, a few months before her second birthday. She was a quick learner and took to search work very enthusiastically. Her first assignment was to the Lake District a couple of weeks after passing her assessment and a few months later located a flood victim in the River Swale in North Yorkshire. She was instrumental in locating a despondent adult on Ilkley Moor, with David providing emergency care to the casualty. 'Nell' has always been a confident dog, happy to work at great distances from her handler and thereby searching and clearing large swathes of moorland or mountainside very efficiently. She retired recently on her 13th birthday, having given over 11 years of service to CVSRT.
Following 'Nell' and 'Peppers' retirement, CVSRT still has excellent support from two border collies, ‘Meg’ and ‘Jack’ who are both 8 years and still in their prime, also from ‘Finn’ - a smooth coated collie (handled by Stephen), who recently joined CVSRT.
There are also three new trainee search dogs within the team. ‘Wynn’ - a lively collie, who lives with David and 'Nell'; ‘Tinker’ - a boisterous Labradoodle (handled by Simon); and most recently ‘Orion’ - a bouncy springer spaniel (handled by Gary). All unaware that the great game that they are learning to play could in the future provide a lifesaving service.
CVSRT would like to thank 'Nell' and 'Pepper' for their many years of dedication and commitment to the team and the community.
It’s safe to say that the last few days have been busy for CVSRT and fellow rescue teams across the country with members working around the clock in shifts to provide support for the emergency services, local councils and associated agencies during the challenging weather extremes everyone has experienced and in some remote areas is still experiencing.
It is worth remembering that the team is a charity funded entirely by donations with all team members volunteering their time freely. In most cases, members have full time jobs and families to support, as well as juggling their commitment to the rescue team. Granted, no one forces them to go out in all weather conditions, day or night, to help those in need, but we do regardless of the circumstance. The sense of community is at the heart of the team with a sole purpose to unconditionally help those in most need. Hard times often bring out the best in people and we have witnessed some incredible acts of kindness towards complete strangers and neighbours alike, which is warming to see in such bitterly cold temperatures.
It would take too long to report on every incident that the team has been involved with during our snow patrols, so in summary we have collated a selection of photos and videos, with details of a few incidents.
• Team assisted Yorkshire Ambulance Service with a casualty with a suspected fractured neck of femur
• Team assisted West Yorkshire Police and neighbouring rescue teams with patrolling high-level routes rescuing drivers and families in distress - in some cases, vehicles had skidded off the road or were stranded for several hours in snowdrifts with sub-zero temperatures and high winds with no supplies
• Local farmers helped to clear a route for a patient to get to hospital for dialysis – Team drove the patient home afterwards.
• 22 people evacuated from M62 to a place of refuge at the North Bridge Leisure Centre. Also supplied hot drinks to stranded drivers on M62 throughout the night.
• High-level patrols continued for several days with the team assisting countless stranded drivers helping to dig out vehicles or evacuating the passengers to a place of safety.
Plus many more taskings from West Yorkshire Police.
Whilst the worst of the weather appears to have passed, snow continues to fall and certain areas of high ground remain affected with difficult driving conditions.
CVSRT remains on standby to assist where required. Please be vigilant, plan ahead and stay safe. Thank you.