Mountain rescuer who's served Cumbria for 40 years elected national president

Ray Griffiths, Patterdale Mountain Rescue, new leader of Mountain Rescue England and Wales
Ray Griffiths, Patterdale Mountain Rescue, new leader of Mountain Rescue England and Wales

A mountain rescuer who's been keeping walkers in Cumbria safe for more than 40 years has been elected as president of the practice's national body.

Ray Griffiths, the longest serving member of Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team, will take up the top job at Mountain Rescue England and Wales (MREW).

He first joined the Patterdale team in January 1976 when he moved to the Eden area to teach at Ullswater Community College, in Penrith.

In that time he has served in a number of roles, including deputy leader, as well as undertaking work for the region and for MREW.

"Ray is a fount of knowledge on mountain clothing and kit,” said friend and ex-Patterdale team leader Dave Freeborn.

"His rucksack show was a legend at team winter training sessions and he shared all that experience and expertise as the Lake District’s delegate on the national equipment subcommittee for almost 20 years.”

In that role, Ray worked with national equipment officer Richard Terrell to lead the process of finding a replacement manufacturer for the specialist Bell stretcher that is used by mountain rescue teams up and down the country.

Ray follows in the footsteps of Peter Bell - after whom the stretcher is named - as he takes on the role of president.

"It’s a daunting task, following Peter Bell, given everything he achieved for mountain rescue,” said Ray.

"I hope to visit as many teams and regions as I can, to talk to people at all levels of our community. And, by community, I mean far beyond those wearing the red jackets — the partners and families behind us all, our fundraisers and supporters and even work colleagues who tolerate us vanishing at a moment’s notice."

Five years ago Ray received the Distinguished Service Award for his contribution to that mountain rescue community.

"During that time, above all, I’ve valued that we get involved in mountain rescue to help others," he added.

"Mountain rescue is unique. We need to work together to do what we do, as a cohesive team, finding or rescuing people in need in mountain and wilderness areas.

"Yet all teams have evolved individual skills and responses. Our teams operate in many different terrains but interact and support each other without question.”

While Ray no longer relishes the idea of flogging up to Striding Edge or the Helvellyn headwall in foul weather and at night with a heavy load, he has recently retaken and passed his casualty care qualification and is even considering taking up jogging to keep up with the younger members of the team.

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