A LAKE District mountain rescue team has elected a new leader with 23 years experience as a volunteer.

Mike Rippon has taken over the role with the Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team from Mike Blakey, who has done the job since 2013.

“It’s quite a responsibility taking over from someone who has led the team through such challenging times,” said Mr Rippon. “The team has responded to nearly 500 call-outs in Mike’s six years and that’s excluding the 60 or so flood-related calls over four days during Storm Desmond.

"Mike’s also been instrumental in developing our combined avalanche and winter training approaches with other Lake District teams, guiding the development of the rescue centre at Ogilvie House and celebrating our 50th year – he’s going to be quite an act to follow!”

Patterdale MRT is one of the busiest Lake District teams with high profile rescues on Striding Edge and Swirral Edge a regular feature of the incident reports, as well as call-outs to popular locations such as Aira Force and the lakeside path around Ullswater.

“I don’t see that mix changing in the coming years,” said Mike. “We need to continue to focus on developing our core skills, investing when needed in our vehicles and equipment.

"I’m also keen to build our relationships with other teams, through the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association (LDSAMRA) and Mountain Rescue England and Wales (MREW), and to contribute to safety and education campaigns that reduce the number of avoidable call-outs. Within the team, we’ll also be working to support the continued wellbeing of all our team members.”

Handing over the team leadership, Mr Blakey said: “Mountain rescue is all about team work and I’ve enjoyed working with Mike Rippon for several years so I know that he’s got the right priorities and perspective to lead the team into the future.

"I’d like to thank everyone involved at Patterdale MRT for their support and encouragement during my tenure in the role and I wish Mike well as he takes it on – the team is in safe hands.”