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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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New Cumbrian rescue team leader has big pair of boots to fill

Chris Higgins knows how scary it is to be stranded on a mountain. Back in 2000 he was airlifted by helicopter from a peak in the Scottish Highlands after suffering an injury.

Chris Higgins photo
Chris Higgins

This experience made a great impression on Mr Higgins, who has just become the new leader of Keswick Mountain Rescue Team.

“A Royal Navy helicopter rescued me but if it hadn’t been able to get to me it would have been the local mountain rescue team,” he said.

“So I have experience of being a casualty and being a rescuer. I can vouch for how valuable a service it is.”

Mr Higgins, 48, was born in Hertfordshire and moved north 20 years ago. He works as an outdoor activities instructor and has volunteered with the Keswick rescue team for 19 years.

He believes volunteering is a way to put his skills in the outdoors to good use.

“What greater thing is there to do than save somebody’s life?” he said.

He takes over from Mark Hodgson, who held the position for two decades and who was awarded an MBE for services to mountain rescue in the Queen’s New Year Honours in 2012. He has been a volunteer with the Keswick team for 40 years.

“It is a big pair of shoes to fill,” said Mr Higgins.

He is unsure if he will be in the position as long.

“I’m only a few days in the role, I think it is a bit early to say,” he said.

“I am going to need a bit of help but there are people in the team who have a lot more experience than me and I will be tapping into that.”

Mr Higgins stressed that the mountain rescue service relied entirely on volunteers. His team of 49 includes people whose ages range from their 20s up to their 80s. They also have a variety of skills, ranging from mountaineering to fixing four-wheeled-drive vehicles and IT. For more information on the team, visit www.keswickmrt.org.uk.

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