Andrew Thomas speaks to two members to find out what it’s like to be a volunteer with Langdale Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team

Dave Park describes the moment he gets a text and email alerting him he is needed to attend an incident on the Lake District fells.

“It is a nervous thrill because you never know what you are going out to,” he said. “My kit bag is always by the door with all the equipment charged up. You drop everything, get your boots on and get out of the door.”

Like other members of Langdale Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team (LAMRT), Dave, 49, is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He never knows when the next call-out will happen.

“You do get those moments when you are about to go out with your wife and daughters and you get a call,” said Dave. “Their eyes roll and they say ‘We’ll see you later’.

“You have to have the commitment to go out when you can. We have a rule that you put your family first, your job second and the team third. But if you can go out, you will go.”

Dave, who lives at Windermere, owns a commercial insurance company at Durham and moved to the Lakes in 2010. It was an area he had visited many times to pursue sports like mountain biking and fell running.

After getting things sorted out, he discovered he had some spare time. “I was looking to give something back. I have always done a bit of business and people coaching and I’ve also had a couple of non-executive roles and they are all about helping people and that is what drew me to mountain rescue.”

After being interviewed he entered a one-year training programme. The first six months involved learning things like rope rescue, off-road driving and blue light skills and gaining first aid qualifications. “During the second six months you can attend rescues as a probationer. You are helping out but also finding out and understanding how things work on a hill, how to deal with helicopters and about the team dynamic,” he said.

He said it was a proud moment when he was accepted as a full member of what is one of England’s busiest teams. Dave is now a trustee for the team, which is based at Ambleside.

 “There are times when we don’t get called out for two weeks. At other times you get back-to-back rescues or three or four in a weekend. If you go out and someone is injured in an isolated spot you could be out 12 hours. If there is only a short climb you could be back after an hour or two.”

Covid-19 has changed things this past year but, usually, team members will attend training sessions three or four times a month.

The most memorable incidents - and the ones which gave Dave the most satisfaction - are those where the team has helped someone who is badly injured, or developed a serious medical condition or is lost and there is a positive outcome. “It might be someone who would not have got off the fell without our help. You know you have saved their lives and that sticks in your mind.”

Some incidents are less serious. Dave and other team members once abseiled down Deer Bields crag face at Grasmere Common to rescue a young foxhound which was stuck on a ledge. “The hound was a little nervous but after I gave him half a Snickers bar he became a friend and we got him down safely.”

Sarah Anderson, 32, of Ambleside, one of LAMRT’s deputy team leaders and a trustee, spends a lot of her working life on the high fells in her work role as a National Trust Ranger. She said there had been occasions when she had been on the fells working since 8am, had just returned home and then had to go straight back out after receiving a rescue call-out.

Being a member of LAMRT was hard work and a big commitment, she said, but added: “The fells are an environment I love and I am quite suited to and if you enjoy it and are helping people at the same time then it is a good mix.”

LAMRT is currently looking to recruit some new members. Those interested should complete the short application form at

Qualities needed, said Dave, included general outdoor skills and physical fitness. “You have to have spare time so that, at the drop of a hat, you can attend a rescue. You also have to be able to work as part of a team and be ready to do anything that is asked of you.”