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Fifty years celebrated – with Yorkshire Dales rescue

[Wednesday 07 May 2008]

FOUR o’clock on Sunday afternoon saw exactly the fiftieth anniversary of one man’s first call-out as a member of the Cave Rescue Organisation. The Chairman’s speech was made, the bottle of bubbly presented to Brian Boardman, the knife poised to cut the celebratory cake . . . . . . . . . and the phone rang.

A climber had fallen at Malham Cove, fracturing her lower leg; she was still roped up and on ‘the balcony’, a good 10 metres up the Cove face. A team was sent from Clapham and the injured climber carried to a waiting air ambulance. Brian ran the CRO ‘control room’, at Clapham.

That was the second of CRO’s three call-outs, this week. The first was just before 5 a.m. on Sunday, when a brief search of Ingleborough was organised to find a 61 year-old walker, from Norfolk, missing from a Long Distance Walkers’ Association over-night event. He was found at the summit shelter by two CRO members, just a few minutes before the arrival of a Sea King helicopter, from RAF Leconfield. The helicopter carried the missing man and the CRO members back to CRO Base, at Clapham, in time for breakfast.

On Tuesday (6th), a climber, in her early thirties and from Glasgow was at the top of a pitch on Gimmer Crag, in Langdale (Lake District), at about noon, when she leaned forward to fix a belay and jammed her knee in a crack. After two hours of attempting to lift her clear, her companions sent for help. Langdale-Ambleside and Kendal mountain rescue teams were called out, but they also sent for CRO, with its rock-removal equipment. An RAF helicopter flew members and equipment up to the top of Gimmer Crag, from where they abseiled down to the climber. She was freed after the removal of a small amount of rock and, remarkably for someone stuck in the same position for seven hours, was able to abseil down to the base of the crag, then walk, unaided, down the valley.

Brian Boardman has had many roles within CRO, including secretary, underground controller, duty controller and depot warden. He is credited with raising much of the money needed to buy and convert the Depot, at Clapham, in the 1970s and is still active in fund-raising and in staffing the Clapham HQ during incidents. He was formerly secretary of the British Cave Rescue Council and was awarded the Mountain Rescue Council’s Certificate for Outstanding Service in the mid-1980s.

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