A MOUNTAIN rescue team member with five decades of experience in search and rescue, has said that the new mobile base would 'massively' help the group.

Harry Ashcroft has been a member of Kendal Mountain Rescue Team for 10 years but joined his first rescue team in North Wales in 1967.

As well as his time with the Llanberis organisation, Mr Ashcroft has volunteered with Bay Search and Rescue, Furness Mountain Rescue and spent time in the RAF.

Now 68 and living in Grange-over-Sands, Mr Ashcroft does not go out on the fells when there is a callout but instead works as operational support at the Busher Walk base.

"It's keeping an eye on the safety of the team members and helping to get people and equipment in the right places at the right time," he explained.

With his role relying so much on good communication between himself and team members, Mr Ashcroft is keenly aware of how valuable the new mobile base would be.

"There are quite a few black spots in our team area," he said. "Particularly in places like Longsleddale and in the Howgills and it becomes very difficult to do the job when you haven't got proper communications.

"We've had a search up in Kentmere where the only communication was by mobile phone with base. No radio communication at all. It was quite difficult to keep a handle on things."

As well as the practical side of being able to offer support to those, who like himself, love the outdoors, Mr Ashcroft has an emotional connection with mountain rescue.

Having taken a year out from his role after receiving a cancer diagnosis, Mr Ashcroft is on the road to recovery and has just returned to his position.

"There's very much a sense of family," he said, of his team in Kendal. "They're not just friends, they are family.

"I keep an eye on things through the media and it's very frustrating to say the least when you can't be involved in it."

And, having once needed the help of mountain rescue himself, Mr Ashcroft's appreciation of the work the team's undertake is even greater.

"Many years ago I burst my appendix while I was climbing," he recalled. "I had to be rescued and that was a terrible experience, having to call the mountain rescue team. They took the mickey out of me something rotten about it."

But, his own experience highlights that it does not matter who you are, you may need the potentially live saving help of mountain rescue.

"Mountain rescue is for anyone who enjoys the outdoors," he said. "It doesn't matter how experienced they are or not or how well equipped they are. If they've taken the step of getting out there to do things - you have to start somewhere."

If you have been helped by Kendal Mountain Rescue Team and would like to share your story, please contact Sara Royle on 01539 790260 or email sara.royle@nqnw.co.uk