Reunion to mark 50 years

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Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team members old and new gathered for a commemorative walk as part of its 50th anniversary.

The walk was particularly significant because it reflected part of the ill-fated route taken on the November 29, 1965 by Robert Akrigg, the reservoir keeper who set out in blizzard conditions with his son Donald, to check rain gauges in the catchment area.

Parting company at the junction between Reaps Water and Dicken Dyke, Robert set off towards Raistrick Greave. Donald returned to the rendezvous having completing his tasks, but Robert never arrived.

It is known that Robert checked the gauges near Raistrick Greave, but from there on, his route is not confirmed.

From here, the commemorative walk followed footpaths to the point where Robert’s body was eventually discovered on February 6, 1966 when the heavy snow drifts thawed and severe weather abated.

The team was set-up following that tragedy.

Donald Akrigg and his wife were able to join the walkers for the whole route, along with Chris Ambler, who worked for the water board at the time.

Chris, along with Calder Valley Search and Rescue president Bob Uttley and Peter Legg, one of the local landowners, all provided some additional information on the surrounding area and initial search.

Also in attendance were eight team leaders past and present, and current team leader Ben Carter.

The conditions underfoot were difficult to negotiate, but helped all the walkers gain a better understanding of the difficulties Robert would have had finding his way in the blizzard conditions.

Eventually all participants made it back to the starting point for some welcome refreshment at the Pack Horse Inn at Widdop where they recounted stories from the past and remembered the team’s origins.

Calder Valley Search and Rescue is a voluntary charity that operates within Mountain Rescue guidelines and is part of the Mid-Pennine Search and Rescue region supporting the statutory emergency services, working on behalf of West Yorkshire Police.

It is made up of 50 full team members, six trainee members, 37 casualty carers, three doctors, three paramedics and nine swift water and flood rescue technicians.

It also has four air scenting search dogs, four vehicles and works out of three strategic locations.

Members are on call 24 hours a day all year round and receive around 65 call-outs per year.

It’s running costs are £35,000 per year but the team receive no direct funding from the government.