The Westmorland Gazette has launched a new campaign, Readers to the Rescue, to raise £40,000 for Kendal Mountain Rescue Team to buy a state-of-the-art vehicle to act as a 'mobile base'. This would allow better communications and potentially save lives in the fells. SARA ROYLE meets one of the team and finds out how he balances his duties with home life.

BALANCING his voluntary work for Kendal Mountain Rescue Team and his family life is not always easy, Tony Womack told the Gazette.

A former military man, he joined the team in 2008, having retired at 40 to become a stay at home dad.

"I was into outdoors quite a lot because I've got a military background so I was into a fair bit of adventures," Tony, who lives in Grayrigg, said. "I'd done a few expeditions around the world."

Although the 57-year-old's schedule allows him to find the time to volunteer, the role is not without its challenges.

"There are times you get disturbed at two in the morning or 6am," Tony, who is a member of the leader group, said. "So you do get the times where it does disturb the whole family and they realise you've got to get up and go when the pager goes.

"A couple of years ago I left the pub on my birthday to attend a callout. You've just got to be wary. Family always comes first but they understand you've volunteered for mountain rescue and there will be times when it'll be awkward and you've got to go out."

His two teenage children, Scott and Molly, have been very supportive of their dad's work. They have helped with fundraising and even acted as causalities for team training.

However, he said that he thinks Molly, who is now 14, did worry about him when she was younger.

"Especially when the children were younger," he said. "I think Molly was more aware. She understood that dad could be in danger and I think Scott was aware as well. But with Kendal Mountain Rescue when you become a volunteer, your family are welcomed to the group as well."

He said that the new mobile base, with its improved communication facilities, would help to put his family's minds at ease.

"It's having that knowledge that we've got this wide range of communication," he said. "Whereas previously we were in a lot of black spots."

Scott, a keen swimmer, said that although he does not plan on following in his dad's footsteps and there have been Christmasses where dad has had to leave for a callout, he is nonetheless proud of the work that he does.

"Even though he's got family he has to sacrifice some things to make sure people stay safe and are okay," he said.

"I always feel proud of him doing this sort of stuff. Quite a lot of what the family does is based around helping others. Mum works in hospital, dad does mountain rescue and I work as a lifeguard. Our family is based around helping others."