I bet few who use the Outdoors know about the wonderful work of the Order Of St John and its incredible assistance to Mountain Rescue in Scotland? Hope fully after reading this you may have an idea of what work they have done.
This is the copy of a letter I wrote to the Order when I retired from Mountain Rescue. Firstly please accept my sincere apologies for not writing before to thank you for all your great work for the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland over the year for the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland over the years. I was the Chairman of the Mountain Rescue Committee in the early nineties when we were first approached by the Order of St John who wanted to assist Mountain Rescue in Scotland.
I was at that time in the RAF and serving at RAF Kinloss in Morayshire. I was the Team Leader of the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team and was the first military member to serve as Chairman of the Scottish Mountain Rescue Teams. . In the RAF we are extremely well equipped and even had 5 full –time staff, our primary role is to assist in the recovery of crashed military aircraft in the mountains of the UK. The RAF Teams are well funded by the government unlike our civilian counterparts who at that time had to raise all their funding through Charity. I felt it was one of my main tasks as Chairman with my Executive Committee to try to get additional cash or sponsorship for the civilian teams. This may sound fairly simple but to Mountain Rescue in these days this was very radical! Sponsorship financial assistance many thought would come with strings attached and many in Mountain Rescue were wary of their independence.
Mountain Rescue as you are aware is made up of civilian volunteers all who are all unpaid and to some, sponsorship was the first route to professionalism creeping into Mountain Rescue. This was a great worry to many as things were changing at this period of time Health & Safety was raising its head and litigation was a worry in the care of casualties.
I spoke to the Executive Committee and we all agreed that any help from the Order Of St John would be a huge benefit not only to Mountain Rescue in Scotland but far more importantly to the casualty. I had a meeting at RAF Kinloss with from Sir James Stirling Of Garden and explained that there may be a “hearts and mind” exercise ahead when he met some of the teams. I was very frank but was so impressed by the attitude and desire of the Order to help. Many Sponsors would have left it there but incredibly The Order agreed to speak to a few of the “Characters in Scottish Mountain Rescue” especially those who were very wary of this new idea. He traveled far and wide and met some of the characters who make Mountain Rescue so unique. This was not an easy task. Many others took up the baton within Mountain Rescue and after a few years the bond was made between the Order and Scorrish Mountain Rescue. Due to this magnificent work of the rest is history. This was a key point in Scottish Mountain Rescues development.
I retired from the RAF in 2007 and for 3 years was a member of the Torridon & Kinlochewe MRT, who are in the process of building a long overdue base for the team. I am still very active as a mountaineer and it is incredible to see MR Bases all over Scotland from Skye, to Glencoe to the Borders and the Islands. The new Base in Arran looks wonderful and this is where my family started me on my “Affair” with the mountains, nearly 50 years ago. What you have achieved is incredible for the Order and a wonderful addition to Mountain Rescue. I spent nearly 40 years many as Team Leader having to talk to casualties in the back of a land – rover or an old building during searches. Even worse is speaking to relatives after a fatality and to have some where warm and secure to speak and comfort them in nearly every MRT area was so needed and is a huge improvement. As important is having an area for Team Members to train and debrief after an operation and store and service equipment is a wonderful accolade to the Order. In addition the Team bases are now part of the local facilities in some areas, this gives especially the remote areas locals the opportunity to share in teams facilities. I do wish more people realise what the Order has done for Mountain Rescue and I hope the small logos on the buildings and Bases are testimony to your great achievements. The Bases and vehicles you have supported over the years had made a superb difference to Mountain Rescue. I have heard that you plan to continue this support of Mountain Rescue in Scotland in the future, long may it continue.
The Order of St John I salute you.
St John Scotland, formed in 1947, is a Scottish charity dedicated to helping others through medical and rescue activities. Its head office, the Chancery (right), is in Edinburgh.
Unlike St John in England, it does not provide ambulance and first aid training services. This is because of a 1908 agreement with the St Andrew’s Ambulance Association.
Instead St John Scotland supports mountain rescue by providing rescue bases and vehicles for Scottish mountain rescue teams, and has also provided boats for two Scottish rescue boat services.
St John Scotland is divided into twelve areas, each with their own projects, such as the First Responder Service in Angus and Dundee and Palliative Care in Dumfries and Galloway. Fundraising is also undertaken to help other Priory of Scotland approved local charities.