History

History of Coniston MRT

Below is an outline of the history behind Coniston Mountain Rescue, then further down you can see our membership timeline with the historical records of who has been a part of Coniston MRT.

Team in the 70'sPrior to the Team’s formation in 1947 and in the earlier years, most rescues were of fallen rock climbers. These rescues were performed by the victim’s friends, other fellow climbers and any willing volunteer, whether local or visitor. In the very early years the casualty may have been carried strapped to a gate, hastily removed from its hinges, and taken to a horse and cart which had been brought to the nearest point on the track.

Early incidents include the fatal air crash on Great Carrs on the night of 22nd October 1944, when a Halifax Bomber on exercise from Topcliffe in Yorkshire had become lost in fog over the Lake District. Halifax LL505 was flying from West to East and it is believed the crew had decided to descend to try to get a better visual fix on a land mark. Sadly all 8 crew – seven Canadians and one Scot perished. An RAF Mountain Rescue Team from RAF Millom is believed to have attended, and so did a number of villagers including Jack Hellen who was to become a founding member of Coniston Fells Rescue Party, which eventually became Coniston Mountain Rescue Team.

Villagers also rallied round to help a local quarry worker on 14th December 1937. Jim Long and his colleague Matthew Walker had both been working in Spion Kop quarry. high on the Eastern slope of Coniston Old Man. Heavy snow was falling and a gale had started to drift the snow. Older workers had already left and moved lower down to Saddlestone quarry, but Jim and Matthew had elected to stay on.  At around 2 pm they decided that they should also make a move downhill.

cmrt-history-twoSoon after setting off an avalanche of snow from one of the quarry waste heaps overwhelmed them and swept them both down the mountainside. Matthew Walker was stopped on a rocky ledge and when he reoriented himself and realised Jim had disappeared completely and couldn’t be found.

Matthew therefore struggled down to Saddlestone quarry where George Coward, the Foreman organised a search party.  Nothing was found and after one and a half hours the search was abandoned due to darkness and worsening conditions. The rescuers returned home for dry clothes and food and set out again at 7:30 armed with lanterns and hoping that some moonlight would assist their search. The weather continued to hamper their efforts but they soldiered on and at about 2:30 am, during a lull in the gale, they heard a cry in response to their shouts. visibility was poor – about 9 yards; it was about another 15 minutes or so before they found an outstretched arm emerging from the snow, Jim had been found, alive!

Jim was carried through waist deep drifts to Saddlestone quarry where he was warmed in front of a fire and dressed in dry clothes. Once sufficiently revived he was stretchered down to the village, where they arrived at 6:30 am.

At the recommendation of Coniston Parish Council, George Coward was presented with the British Empire Medal for “Leadership and Courage” in the New Year’s Honours list of 1939.

Christmas 2016 was the 70th anniversary of the tragic event which lead to the formation of what was to become Coniston Mountain Rescue Team, the first volunteer mountain rescue team in England.

On Friday 20th December 1946 Mr Ernest Sivyer (41), from Middlesex, arrived with his wife at the Holiday Fellowship Association hostel at Monk Coniston where he had recently accepted a post as resident walking guide for the following season. Although he is described as being an experienced mountaineer he was unfamiliar with the Lake District, nevertheless he offered his services as a guide to others staying at the hostel. He set out that clear and frosty morning with a map and compass to plan routes for walking and climbing. By nightfall he had not returned so his wife contacted the police.

A search was organised by the police and they established that Robert Birkett, a local farmer from Yewdale, had spoken to someone matching Mr Sivyer’s description who was going to climb the Yewdale fells. The weather deteriorated to heavy rain with full winter conditions on the fell tops over the weekend and, although an extensive search involving over 50 policemen drafted in from all over Lancashire, bloodhounds, local farmers and climbers including Jim Cameron and Tommy Usher, was carried out they failed to find any trace of Mr Sivyer for more than three days. The search was carried out in atrocious weather conditions by the police and willing volunteers in what was described, even at the time, as inadequate clothing (it would certainly not have been considered suitable nowadays)!

My Sivyer’s body was found on Tuesday 24th, Christmas Eve, near the bottom of a crag, close to a waterfall known locally as the White Lady. His camera was open and hanging by its strap round his neck, prompting the authorities to speculate that he had been trying to take a photograph and had slipped on frozen ground.

This search led to a meeting of the Coniston Parish Council at the instigation of County Councillor Stanley Baker on 24th January 1947. Those present at the meeting agreed to the creation of the Coniston Fells Rescue Party, to be formed mainly of local climbers and walkers. This included many people who had been involved in the search for Mr Sivyer, Jim Cameron and Tommy Usher amongst them. However the Parish Council could not fund this new rescue team. On 26th January Jim Cameron and two of the Appleyard brothers went climbing in Borrowdale, during tea afterwards down at High Lodore Farm they discussed the formation of a team and who might be willing to join. The following day John called round to a number of people hoping he might get 10 volunteers. As it happened he got 20 and they got together on the evening of 31st January in the bar of The Sun so this was, effectively, when the team was formed. They initially called themselves the Coniston Fells Rescue Party.

The first training session was held on the weekend of 22nd/23rd February. On 13th April 1947, during another training session or meeting, word reached the village that a climber had fallen some 90 feet from Dow Crag, the main climbing crag in the Coniston area. The casualty was Jim Cameron who had therefore become the team’s first leader and casualty, he had been knocked unconscious and suffered a broken ankle. Jim went on to be team leader until 1975.

Poem About the Night

A local woman, Mabel Usher penned a poem to commemorate the brave acts of that night:

Heroes, heroes one and all
Answering that urgent call
On that rough December night
When the gale was at its height.
High upon that mountain steep
Lay one in a snowdrift deep.
And to find him they would dare
Brave the elements without care

Roped together hand in hand
Pressed bravely forth that gallant band
Although their feet began to slide
All thought of self was put aside.

Out from a snowdrift came a cry
Help! Oh help, for here am I.
How their hearts with joy did bound
For they knew the lost was found.
They all with kindly words of cheer
Took him to a shelter near.
“Take my shirt” said one of the men
”You will be much warmer then.”

The silver moon gave forth its light
On the mountain bleak that night
And surely there an unseen guide
was walking by those heroes’ side.
It was at the early dawn
Of that cold December morn.
When the heroes reached at last
Their workmate’s house all danger past

So let us than that unseen Guide
Who walked close by those heroes’ side
And lift out grateful hearts to Him
Who led them to their workmate Jim.

Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)

Roy Cooksey was awarded MBE in New Years Honours List Dec 2008 for voluntary service to the Coniston Mountain Rescue Team. Roy Joined in 1970 and became a Team Leader in 1981 until 2007.

Anthony Robinson was awarded an MBE 2016 (and is also an Honorary Vice President).  Anthony was awarded his MBE for services to Mountain Rescue and the community of Coniston with over 50 years of service.

Malcolm Grindrod awarded an MBE 2018 (and also is an Honorary Vice President).  Malcolm’s dedication to Mountain Rescue, and particularly training dogs, goes back some 55 years, something he should be very proud of.  Malcolm is one of the founder members of LDMRSDA and as such has helped many of today’s handlers to achieve their goal of becoming a Graded Search Dog Team. His knowledge, experience and comical ‘tails’ of wisdom have often helped many a dog handler on a cold, wet fellside.

President

Roy Cooksey MBE

Honorary Vice Presidents

This is awarded to a team member that has shown many years of service and commitment. These posts are an honorary position that remains in the teams timeline.

Guy Plint

Trevor Walker

Roy Garner

Anthony Robinson

Roy Lake

Nick Mathews

Malcolm Grindrod

Dave Shepherd

John Robinson

Carol Carroll

Team Leaders

1947 – 1975          Jim Cameron

1975 – 1981          John Anderson

1981 – 2007          Roy Cooksey

2007 – 2013          Anthony Robinson

2013 – 2014          Caroline Langdon

2014 –                   Rob Ingham

Deputy Team Leaders

1971 – 1975          John Anderson

1975 – 1981          Jeff Darwent

1981 – 2007          Anthony Robinson

2007 – 2013          Roy Lake

2013 – 2014          Rob Ingham

2014  –                  Jeff Carroll

Assistant Team Leaders

1996 – 2006           John Kirkbride

2006 – 2014           Dave Shepherd

2006 – 2015            Roy Lake

2007 – 2013           Caroline Langdon

2013 – 2013           Rob Ingham

2013 – 2014            Sam Clarke

2014 – 2017            Christyne Judge

2015 – 2016            Andy Simmonite

2016 –                     Rob Jones

2017 –                     Janice Hamilton

Historic Membership Timeline

2018
FOUNDER MEMBERS 1947

Jim Cameron (Leader)

Tom Usher (Chairman)

Andrew D’Aeth (Secretary)

George Usher

John Appleyard

Peter Appleyard

Ian Appleyard

Harry Belton

Allan Boyran

W (B) Beresford

Jack Hellen

Tom Robinson

Jim Fury

Jack Diamond

Bill Coward

Tommy Wilson

Raymond Rowe

Dr Stephen Darbishire

Mr Satterthwite

Mr J Gorlick

1947
MEMBERS BETWEEN 1947 & 1961

There are no minutes available for the period between 1947 and October 1961. From the attendance recorded in the minutes after 1961 it has been possible to establish that the following people had joined CMRT between 1947 and 1961

John Anderson

Doug Birkett

Norman Brockbank

Geoff Darwent

Mike Nicholson

Nigel Dixon

W Dixon

Rev Zac Edwards

John Usher

Colin Shepherd

Donald Shepherd

Stanley Jeeves

Geoff Weir

David Rowe

Trevor Smith

E Ridgeway

R Thompson

C Friar

Alan Whitfield

Les Grizedale (18 Oct 1961)

1961
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1962

March 2nd 1962

S Darbishire (Jun)

March 30th 1962

John Wood (PC)

John Wilson (PC)

1962
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1963

February 15th 1963

Anthony Robinson

Hugh Carroll

Malcolm Grindrod

1963
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1965

February 26th 1965

Jeremy Rowe

David Clarke

November 12th 1965

Dave Shepherd

Edward Rhodes

1965
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1966

February 1st 1966 

Ken Ettridge

October 28th 1966

Rev John Hancock (Res March 76)

1965
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1967

February 8th 1967     

Bill Hargreaves

Jack Taylforth

February 29th 1967

R Walker

October 31st 1967

Roy Dolman

1967
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1969

October 30th 1969

Roy Brown

Peter Martin

Dr James Armstrong

1969
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1970

March 19th 1970   

Nev Collighan

October 30th 1970

Roy Cooksey

Keith Coxon

1970
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1971

March 30th 1971

John Anderson made Deputy Leader

1971
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1972

April 20th 1972                                    

Ian Usher

Eric Usher

Geoff Walker

November 10th 1972

Peter Dixon (Res March 81)

Bill Barnes

Bill Williams

1972
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1973

May 14th 1973   

Denys John

Chris Etough

June 28th 1973 

Alex Allan

Allan Beardsmore

Trevor Walker

November 22nd 1973

Hugh McFarlane

Guy Plint

1973
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1974

February 5th 1974

George Tarr

John Robinson

Mike Croasdale

Bill Whelan

Philip Johnson (Sun Hotel)

1974
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1975

April 17th 1975                                    

D Garaghty

Fred Reeves

David Weir

Alan Charlesworth

May 5th 1975

Miss J Darwent

##  Jim Cameron retires

John Anderson elected Leader

Jeff Darwent elected Deputy Leader

May 27th 1975 

Les Buckley

Tim Rowe

Gordon MacPhillips

September 10th 1975

Chris Wood

1975
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1976

Jan 20th 1976

Ian Matheson

Dave Russel

Alan Towse

March 29th 1976

Jack Bibby

April 27th 1976

Nick Mathews

September 7th 1976

Jenny Hyslop

1976
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1977

March 17th 1977

Hugh Cameron

Alastair Cameron

Wendy Darwent

March 29th 1977

John Kirkbride

Andy Hyslop

John Dodd

Mike Hodkinson

November 8th 1977

James Armstrong

1977
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1978

January 24th 1978

Ken Thwaites (PC) (Res Sept 81)

March 7th 1978

Mike Benson

1978
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1979

July 17th 1979

Colin Reilly

October 23rd 1979                            

Peter Radcliffe

1979
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1980

April 29th 1980

M G Walden (Res March 81)

September 2nd 1980      

D I Houlston (Res March 81)

1980
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1981

March 31st 1981

Rev Malcolm Ridyard

Ian Cooksey

March 31st 1981

John Anderson retires as Leader.

Roy Cooksey elected Leader

Anthony Robinson elected Deputy Leader

1981
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1983

January 18th 1983

Duncan Carroll

Jason Metcalf

March 23rd 1983

David Ridyard

November 15th 1983

Ray Newport

Jayne Newport

1983
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1984

March 23rd 1984

Lilian Cooksey

1984
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1985

November 12th 1985

Ben James

Colin Reilly

1985
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1986

March 18th 1986

Jeff Carroll

Chris Woof

November 11th 1986

John Davies

1986
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1987

March 17 1987

Steven Mitchell

Jonathan Atwell

Joy Grindrod (Langdale)

September 29th 1987

Carol Carroll

Margaret Armstrong

December 15th 1987

John Gunner

1987
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1988

March 22nd 1988

Brian Warren

Rev Stephen Skinner

Garry Thomason

March 28th 1988

Dr Ray Wood

April 13th 1988

Mike Salts (Res 1997)

August 18th 1988

Diane Rimmington

1988
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1989

January 24th 1989                   

Philip Reeves

March 7th 1989

Nick Verrall

Patrick Spedding

Doug Wright  (Ret 2004)

Rob Jones

May 23rd 1989

Roy Lake

September 19th 1989

D Napton

1989
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1990

March 13th 1990

Doreen Anderson

March 30th 1990

Tony Brindle

April 17th 1990

Dick Palmer

August 16th 1990

Chris Ensoll

December 11th 1990

Graham Socket (Ret 2004)

1990
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1991

Dec January 16th 1991

Chris Robinson

Philip Johnston (Coppermines)

Chris Lockett

1991
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1992

March 3rd 1992

Mike Bell (Res 1994)

Jonathan Plimmer

August 28th 1992

James Kirkbride

Rev Mark Cannon

1992
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1993

December 12th 1993

Garry Primrose

Caroline Langdon

1993
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1994

June 18th 1994

Angus Baillie

September 13th 1994

John Kirkbride (Jun)

Richard Clunan

December 12th 1994

Paul Reilly

1994
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1995

January 26th 1995

David Coxon

April 27th 1995

Andy Ligema

November 14th 1995                          

Roy Garner

1995
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1996

March 1996

John Kirkbride appointed Asst Leader

1996
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1997

March 21st 1997

Simon Harvey

July 17th 1997

Pat Langdon

1997
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1998

January 22nd 1998                              

Sam Clarke

May 9th 1998

Christyne Judge (Langdale)

1998
MEMBERS JOINED IN 1999

March 25 1999

Malcolm Grindrod (Rejoined)

Dave Westcott

1999
MEMBERS JOINED IN 2001

February 27th 2001                             

Stephen Russell

June 11th 2001

Dan Golding

2001
MEMBERS JOINED IN 2002

January 15th 2002                   

Dave Weir

March 2002

Caroline Watson

October 9th 2002

Phil Moss

Ryan Blackburn

2002
MEMBERS JOINED IN 2003

January 2003

Trevor Morris

2003
MEMBERS JOINED IN 2004

March 30th 2004

Stewart Devlin

Jeremy Wrathall

2004
MEMBERS JOINED IN 2005

March 22nd 2005                                

Shaun Woodington.  (Res 2006)

Phil Lowrie.

Keith Atkinson.  (Res 2009)

Martine Becquet.  (Res 2009)

Bob Henson.

2005
MEMBERS JOINED IN 2006

March 28th 2006.

Jo Dyson (Res 2009)

Andrew Brockbank.

John Davies

2 Asst Leaders appointed,

Roy Lake & Dave Shepherd

December 4th 2006

Tim Brown

2006
MEMBERS JOINED IN 2007

March 27th 2007.

Roy Cooksey to retire after 60th

Anniversary celebrations later in year

Constitution altered. Leaders now appointed for max of 5 years.

Leader – Rob Robinson

Deputy – Roy Lake

Assist – D Shepherd & C Langdon.

June 25th  2007

Geoff Dowker

September 5th  2007

Adam Thickett

December 17th  2007

Hayley Buckley

Anthony Wilcox

2007
MEMBERS JOINED IN 2008

February 21st  2008

Gavin Dorset

Simon Franks

Janice Hamilton

Andrew Simmonite

June 23rd  2008          

Kim Chick

September 22nd 2008

Robert Ingham

Christyne Judge (Transferred from Langdale)

December 22nd 2008                          

Adam Logan

2008
MEMBERS JOINED IN 2009

September 23rd 2009

Sam Bronstein

Jim Gilligan

2009
MEMBERS JOINED IN 2010

June 28th 2010                                      

Kevin Dibble

Barry Hankinson

(BH resigned 12/2010)

2010
MEMBERS JOINED IN 2011

March 22nd 2011                         

Lee Wilkinson

June 14th 2011                                    

Joy Grindrod (Transferred from Langdale)

Chris Green

September 20th 2011

Matt Wardle

Greg Kennelly

2011
MEMBERS JOINED IN 2012

December 4th 2012 

Richard Inman

Tim Brown (Re Join)

2012
MEMBERS JOINED IN 2013

March 5th 2013

Andrew Ribchester

March 2013

Rob Robinson retires as team Leader.

New leader – Caroline Langdon.

Deputy – Rob Ingham.

Assts – Sam Clarke & Roy Lake

June 25th 2013

David Halliwell

December 2nd 2013

Liz Ribchester

Lee Harris

2013
MEMBERS JOINED IN 2014

June 2014

Caroline Langdon resigns as Team leader. (Moving to Scotland)

New Leader – Rob Ingham.

Deputy – Jeff Carroll.

Assts – Christyne Judge & Roy Lake

December 9th 2014                             

Jago Miller

Simon Honeyborne-Sharp

2014
MEMBERS JOINED IN 2015

March 2015

Roy Lake retires as Assistant T/L. Replaced by Andrew Simmonite.

2015
MEMBERS JOINED IN 2016

March 8th 2016

Graeme Crosby

Ben Hester

John Friend

August 2016

Chris Walker

July 18th 2016

Andrew Simmonite resigns as Assistant T/L, replaced by Rob Jones.

2016
MEMBERS JOINED IN 2017

17th February 2017

Christyne Judge resigns as Assistant T/L

Janice Hamilton becomes Assistant T/L

March 2017

Judy Leese (Non-Operational Member)

April 2017

Dick Palmer (rejoins)

June 2017

Mark Braithwaite

July 2017

Caroline Brock

Scott Durrant

2017
MEMBERS JOINED IN 2018

February 2018

Chris Avery

Jackie Coe

Roger Haviland (Non-Operational Member

2018
MEMBERS JOINED IN 2019

April 2019

Jake Biles

Mike Brackwell

Jess Sutherland

Mike Tomes

2019
MEMBERS JOINED IN 2020

 

2020
MEMBERS JOINED IN 2021
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