Freemasons ‘kit out’ rescue team

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When the Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Team needed new thermal shell jackets, it was looking at expenditure of some £5,000 – a hefty sum as it is totally made up of volunteers and receives no official funding.

The Bowland team turned to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity with a request for help towards the cost of the new jackets and were delighted to hear their request had been granted.

The Freemasons would not just make a contribution towards the cost, but would cover all the expenditure involved in the purchase.

Bowland Pennine MRT provides a 365-day mountain search and rescue service in both the rural and urban districts of Lancashire, and, indeed, beyond when assisting other teams.

The last few years has seen a considerable increase in the number of requests by Lancashire police for assistance in non-mountain or open country environments, including searching for elderly, confused or potentially suicidal people or snow-bound roads for stranded motorists.

The team is also regularly asked to provide cover for the ambulance service during bad weather, the work load increasing proportionally to the depth of snow falling.

Faced with such a wide variety of adverse climatic conditions the team members need to be dry and warm if they are to remain effective.

When assessing the best thermal jackets for their needs they turned to a company called Buffalo Systems, of Sheffield

The firm was founded in the late 1970s by mountaineer Hamish Hamilton, who had become discontented with the sleeping bags and clothing.

The concept behind the system – and the jackets chosen by BPMRT – is to keep the wearer comfortable no matter what nature has in store by creating a micro climate within the garment.

However, in wearing the new jackets the team has also become ambassadors for the Freemasons’ charity, as each jacket sports its logo.

Masonic group chairman Jim Wilson and vice-chairman Martin Baxendale went to the team’s HQ in Garstang where they met fundraiser Paul Durham and other team members at a regular training session, learning first hand of the dedication and commitment given freely.

Paul said: “The team is extremely grateful for the support given by Freemasons, not only to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, but to all the local Masonic lodges who also remember us in their distributions to good causes.

“Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Team is entirely funded by charitable contributions, without which we would not survive.

“Donations go towards providing a 365-day mountain search and rescue service saving lives in wild and remote places.”