One late winter night in 2006 a good friend stepped off the side of a mountain in the Brecon Beacons and broke his back. He was on a navigation exercise in the early stages of Special Forces selection.
Six months earlier I had been at his wedding with other officers from our regiment. We had just returned from a bitterly cold tour in Kosovo. We were full of the swagger that young men in uniform cannot suppress. A wedding is certainly no place to try.
When I next saw him he was bolted to a hospital bed. The contrast was gut-wrenching. He had been doing what we all do. He was, in joining the army, in marrying a lovely girl and in taking on Special Forces selection, expressing an excitement and enthusiasm for the world that we all share. He was living life to the full. (Though paralysed, thanks to his team mates, rescuers and the wonders of medical science he still is.)
That is what takes people into the hills – and not just soldiers. People from all walks of life seek challenge, adventure, peace, beauty, reflection and discovery in the rugged expanse of our uplands. We should encourage them. They are motivated by the same hunger for life.
I do not know whether Brecon Mountain Rescue Teams were involved in rescuing Harry. He had the military behind him. What I learnt was that if it can happen to a fit, young soldier, qualified in navigation and survival, it can happen to any of us.
Wherever you have mountains and people you will have accidents. That is why the work of rescue teams is so important.
Brecon MRT keep people safe in the Brecon Beacons. They work with the police and other emergency services to protect people enjoying our most beautiful landscapes. You can find out more about their fantastic work here – http://www.breconmrt.co.uk/. They are all volunteers and depend on people like you to support their work.
Reading their callouts, I am struck by how many minor incidents could have become tragedies, like this one from October 2012:
25/10/2012 14:50 – Hay Bluff
Family group became lost, had 1:50 Map but could not interpret it. No waterproofs, compass, torch etc. Found and walked off hill.
LMRT: 15 personnel for 6.50 hrs
BMRT: 10 personnel for 6.50 hrs
Then there is their work supporting the search for April Jones, in Machynlleth. The list goes on…
I’ll be running – and perhaps walking, just a little bit – 40km of the WAAT4 challenge on 22 June with hundreds of others to raise money for Brecon MRT.
Please sponsor me here – http://www.justgiving.com/ChristopherSalmon
Even better, join in yourself – http://www.waat4.co.uk/