479 years not out as Borders rescue teams honoured with Queen’s Medal

Queen's Jubilee Medal receipients from Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team and Border Search And Rescue Unit, with Lothian and Borders Police chief constable David Strang in the centre. Pic by Reiver Photography.
Queen's Jubilee Medal receipients from Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team and Border Search And Rescue Unit, with Lothian and Borders Police chief constable David Strang in the centre. Pic by Reiver Photography.

MEMBERS of two Borders rescue teams have been honoured with The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for a combined service of 479 years to the region and beyond, writes Kenny Paterson.

A total of 31 volunteers of Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue and the Border Search and Rescue Unit received the gongs as recognition for more than five years with their groups.

Lothian and Borders Police’s chief constable David Strang presents the awards to the team members, 17 of which picked up Golden Jubilee Medals back in 2002, at Scottish Borders Council’s headquarters.

Both charities often work together to help search for missing or injured people in remote locations, as well as provide cover at common ridings, mountain bike events and hill races.

Based at Kelso and generally covering the eastern side of the region as well as the Lothians, BSARU leader Seymour Haugh admitted it can be a thankless task for his team, who are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Mr Haugh, who was among the 10 BSARU medal recipients for his 21-years service, said: “Our members go out in all weathers. Often the casualties we attend occur as a direct result of inclement weather, so we certainly see our fair share of it.

“Service is completely voluntary and team-members must be prepared to turn out at the drop of a hat.

“Many members have an arrangement with their employer that enables them to find cover quickly when needed.

“Others, particularly the self-employed, stand to lose a day’s pay each time they turn out for a prolonged search.

“The fact that the majority of those being honoured have served for more than a decade displays a remarkable level of dedication, and it’s gratifying to have this dedication acknowledged with this presentation.”

Selkirk-based TVMRT has 40 volunteers mainly covering the west of the Borders.

Leader Steve Penny, who received a medal for 21 years as a team member, added: “Since the birth of a mountain rescue team in the Borders in 1963, many hundreds of Borders volunteers have contributed many thousands of hours helping the police and those in need in our hill, rural and sometimes urban areas.

“It is a remarkable achievement and show of commitment that the 21 current TVMRT members who will receive the medal to recognise more than five years service have accumulated 315 years of service between them.”

The longest serving TVMRT member is Selkirk’s Allan McGee with 36 years, who said it was a “great honour” to collect his second Queen’s Medal.

Fundraising is a vital issue for both teams, who rely on donations from the public and a grant from the Scottish Government.

One of BSARU’s attempts to raise money is its annual sponsored walk and challenge run on Sunday, September 30.

This year’s event will start in Morebattle and will take in the Cheviots through a variety of routes for the family and experienced walkers.

The unit is also considering a 34km run with 5,000 feet of climbing.

Further details and updates can be found on the BSARU website at www.bordersar.org.uk

Queen’s Jubilee Medal recipients: TVMRT – Allan McGee, Rob Burgess, Steve Penny, Gavin Kellett (all Selkirk); Richard Fitch, Iain Lees (Galashiels), Bill Glennie, Ian Lowes, Scott Amos, Derek McHugh, Paul Messer, Scott Douglas (all Hawick); Stuart Hadden, Iain Brydon (both Edinburgh); Ray Smith, Mark Hindley (both Innerleithen), Jeff Douce, Jenny Changleng (both Peebles), Dave Wright (Penicuik), Dave Cawthorn (Ashkirk), Chris Chapman (Earlston).

BSARU – Brian Tyson, Ian Stark, Seymour Haugh, David Williams, Stuart Fuller-Shapcott, John Bell, Mike Childs, George Pumffrey, Mark Tennant, Andy Hogarth.