When news happens, text KENEWS and your photos and videos to 80360. Or contact us by email or phone.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes in Tebay for expanding business
EXPLORER Sir Ranulph Fiennes was guest of honour at the opening of a Tebay firm’s new state-of-the-art premises.
Lyon Equipment Ltd, which provides equipment and training for caving, climbing and working at height, has fully relocated to junction 38 after outgrowing its previous home in Dent.
And the 68-year-old veteran adventurer was keen to be at the grand unveiling of the £3.6 million investment as Lyon has played a key role in preparations for his next gruelling challenge.
Sir Ranulph is embarking on ‘The Coldest Journey’, a year-long expedition, with both equipment and training provided by Lyon.
His team will attempt to be the first to cross the Antarctic in winter, with temperatures as low as -70 degrees and a wind chill factor of -120 degrees, and 2,000 miles of polar plateau to traverse.
One of the dangers for the team is unseen crevasses, which they or their vehicles could fall into, but for which Lyon has been providing training to deal with at its Tebay base.
Sir Ranulph said: “Lyon are the experts in the UK, or anywhere really, in rescue techniques and removal. We are extremely grateful they are helping us with their methods, as well as with providing equipment.”
There will be no search and rescue available to the team so it is vital they know how to help themselves in tricky situations.
“It is a pretty experienced team who have spent time in the Antarctic,” he said. “But even with experience it is a place where nature can make things quite difficult for you.”
The plummeting temperatures will be the main risk for the team, and the biggest unknown even with testing and training.
“The steels and welding, and a few components, we have not been able to test below -58 degrees because the only cold chamber we have been able to access does not go down to the temperature we will experience.
“If we said we are not going until we are 100 per cent sure how the equipment will fare, we would never leave.
“If the Americans had thought like that they would have never gone to the moon. We have to face the fact there are certain unknowns.”
The company was established in 1965 by brothers Ben and Graham Lyon, making flexible wire sided caving ladders.
After striking a deal in 1973 to distribute French company Petzl’s caving and climbing gear in the UK, Lyon went from strength to strength and has enjoyed rapid expansion.
The firm’s warehousing was moved to Tebay in 1999, followed by its ‘work and rescue’ division, providing equipment and training for people working at height and for rescue teams.
After 40 years, with 80 staff and a turnover of £17 million, the company finally outgrew its base in Dent and the decision was made to expand the Tebay site.
Joint Managing Director, Jonathan Capper said: “It was difficult to make the decision to move from Dent but with half our operations already in Tebay, when the time came to reunite our business onto one site this was clearly where we had to be.
“We needed a new building that would reproduce all the facilities we had in Dent, but with the room to expand and grow into the future. It was also very important that our staff could move with us.
“Our splendid new building, linked directly with the existing Tebay operations, provides us with state-of-the-art workshops, showrooms, and marketing and administration offices.”