IF ASKED to name one set of people which is universally well-regarded and respected in South Lakeland and the Lake District most people might put forward the area's mountain rescue teams.

Here is a group of people who love the Lake District's fells and want to see others enjoy them safely - and who are prepared to put their own safety on the line when walkers, hikers and climbers get into difficulties.

Each year the area's dedicated teams are prepared to go out in all weathers to rescue people who have slipped, fallen or suffered medical episodes or who are missing on the fells.

They also help out in other major incidents, such as the aftermath of Storm Desmond in 2015.

The Westmorland Gazette:

The teams provide an essential service and are all charities, which are totally dependent on volunteers and donations to survive.

That is why The Westmorland Gazette is proud this week to launch 'Readers to the Rescue', a new campaign which aims to raise £40,000 so that Kendal Mountain Rescue Team can buy a state-of-the-art new vehicle that will also act as a 'mobile base'.

Often at remote callouts members of the team do not get a radio signal and cannot keep in touch with their base back in Kendal.

That can seriously hamper their operations, leaving team members isolated.

The new vehicle will allow for better communications during rescues, allowing members to keep in contact, keep information up to date and to make the right decisions in often difficult circumstances.

And all that will increase the chances of positive outcomes and, ultimately, hopefully save even more lives.

As the positive benefits of the Lake District gaining World Heritage Site status take effect, it is likely even more tourists will visit the area and will want to go out and explore this wonderful landscape on foot.

That will place even more pressures on the mountain rescuers to help out should things go wrong.

Westmorland Gazette readers have a long history of digging deep and backing our fund-raising campaigns. We are confident they will respond once again to Readers to the Rescue and support a very worthy cause.

* If you would like to donate to the appeal complete the coupon above