THE CHAIR and dog-handler of the UK’s original mountain rescue team has revealed that 2022 has been an 'interesting' year of ups and downs.

Christyne Judge, Chair of Coniston Mountain Rescue Team, has given a unique inside view of her life as an integral part of the now 75-year-old mountain rescue team.

Christyne said: "2022 has been an interesting year.

"I started in 2021, training my third search dog, Lewis the Labrador, and I am thrilled to say that in June 2022, Lewis earned his little green tag to say that he was a fully qualified search and rescue dog.

"Unfortunately, in July just three weeks after Lewis and I graded, I woke early one Monday morning feeling absolutely dreadful.

"After a phone call to the doctor they called for an ambulance and I was blue-lighted to Lancaster hospital where I stayed for a week, initially suspected of a bleed on the brain or meningitis.

"After numerous tests, it appeared that all the symptoms were a result of Covid.

"This shocked me as I have had all my vaccinations and had been very careful and I didn't believe (at that time) that if I did get Covid I would be that poorly.

READ MORE: UK's original mountain rescue team leader gives unique insight into 'difficult' year

"After leaving the hospital I was very weak and tired and it's only the last four weeks that I have begun to feel like my normal self, with normal levels of energy and feeling stronger.

"Only now can I start exercising again and I have only really just started attending team training, search dog training , and callouts.

"Being a part of a rescue team and the search and rescue dogs is a big part of my life, they become an extended part of your family, and being away from it for a length of time is difficult.

"It's also mentally quite difficult to then get back into things knowing you have been away for so long, missing so much training and callouts, being a part of this group who are gelled together with their enthusiasm, their love of the outdoors, their passion to help people who get injured or lost on and off the Fells and still run their business, still being a good employee, and still trying to maintain family life.

"So has it been a difficult year? Yes it has, but loving what you do and knowing that people have your back helps."