THE Clapham-based Cave Rescue Organisation (CRO) had its busiest ever year in 2019.

Volunteers attended 102 call-outs and members provided assistance to 90 walkers, nine cavers, six fell runners, three climbers and one paraglider pilot.

They also went to the aid of five sheep or lambs, and six dogs, including one caught in fast-moving water at Pecca Falls, near Ingleton.

In addition, the team was also called out to help in the search for six men or women described as ‘at risk’.

“Sadly, 2019 also saw one of the highest death tolls the team has had to deal with in a single year, with a total of six fatalities – three involving walkers on the fells, two ‘at risk’ people and a caver," said a CRO spokesman.

Perhaps most notable in 2019 for the sheer amount of time and effort required was a caving incident at Curtain Pot, Fountains Fell, between Malham Tarn and Penyghent.

It was a complicated rescue in a largely unknown cave which sadly resulted in the death of a caver.

“The rescue required assistance from other caving teams - Cumbria Mines Rescue, Calder Valley, Upper Wharfedale - and was further complicated by having two other calls to the team during the incident – one to another caving incident at Easegill in Cumbria and a suspected heart attack at Malham Cove.

"The rescues stretched the capabilities of our volunteers, and demonstrated the ability of members to cope and work with other organisations in testing conditions." added the spokesman.

id the spokesman.

A direct consequence of the day was the decision by the team to invest in a new vehicle for the team fleet – a ‘side by side’ all terrain vehicle (CRO4) capable of carrying personnel and equipment where even the team’s trusty Land Rover Defenders struggle to access.

In use only since mid December, it has already proved its worth at two significant incidents.

CRO chairman Sean Whittle said: “Time after time our volunteer members have left work and family to come to the assistance of those who are injured or in distress.

“It is this selfless dedication to others that the members of the CRO have been doing since 1935."

He added: “This year we celebrate 85 years of service so to all those members over the past 85 years, thank you.

“Also, an equal thank you for the family and work colleagues that support the members of CRO in what we do. We couldn’t do it without you”.

The CRO is a charity which relies on the support of donations. It also stages an annual fundraiser - the CRO Challenge - which is due to take place on Saturday, May 16.

Walkers and runners can chose to take part in either a 26-mile Ingleborough Marathon or a 12-mile Clapham circuit.

To find out more, including how to enter the CRO Challenge, visit the website: