In Praise of the NHS and the Voluntary organisations.

Every day there is another tragedy on the media, there are so many it is hard to keep up with. At times you feel that this world is full of hate yet there is till so much good about.  I took an elderly friend to Aberdeen ARI eye clinic, it was a long day for her an 80-year-old and a worry. The  Eye Clinic was so busy and yet (I was there on and off for most of the 3 hours) the kindness of the staff and Nurses were superb. Everyone was treated so well and the nurses so compassionate with each patient despite the huge workload, what a NHS we have and what must we do to protect it.

In the corner of the waiting room was the WRI with their little shop doing sterling work as you see in every hospital. We are again so lucky that we still have these organisations who work on a voluntary basis for no pay and are truly amazing people. Never take them for granted.

1988 fires at Lockerbie


I worked many times with such people, in many of my major incidents all over Scotland. As soon as we arrived the Voluntary Services would be there in all weathers with a caravan looking after the teams involved in a tragedy.  The tea, soup and sandwiches were a good break in at times an awful incident like a plane crash. To most we could have been their family and you not only got tea and food but a much needed word from a mother who felt your pain. I will never forget what they did for us a Lockerbie and were there for weeks helping not just with food and drink but care and comfort. Great people are still doing great things but get little recognition.

This is a copy of a letter I wrote

A big thanks to the WRVS and other Voloutary bodies.

I was involved with Mountain Rescue for over 40 years, mainly with the RAF Mountain Rescue Service. Our main task was assisting in the rescue and recovery of military and civilian aircraft in the mountains. I was very privileged to be the Mountain Rescue Team Leader at RAF Kinloss in Morayshire and at RAF Leuchars in Fife.  The RAF Teams also assist in many other mainly mountain incidents to civilians mountaineers and in assisting in civil emergencies.  In more recent years  about one third of all incidents involves searches in urban and rural areas for vulnerable people a big change in Mountain Rescue incidents.

The reason I write is to thank the WRVS for all their assistance over the years and helped myself and the teams on so many occasions. The WRVS were always there as soon as a major incident occurred helping in so many practical ways, especially with food and drink after some difficult incidents. This was especially present at Lockerbie where I was the senior Mountain Rescue Team leader; I was there with the RAF Leuchars team. The WRVS were there at the beginning and set up in Lockerbie High School where the teams were based. It was a massive operation involving a huge amount of Agencies from the Police, Search and Rescue Dogs, the civilian Mountain Rescue teams and many more. Your people looked after us and when we came in for a break or a briefing there was always warm food and a drink night or day. Even more important was the care given when we did get some down time after the horrors we had seen. I will never forget how kind and understanding your people were to us all.

Over the years the WRVS have helped me and the Mountain Rescue on so many occasions, I felt I had to thank you all as at the time of a disaster you forget what is being done by all those unassuming members of the WRVS. This is long overdue and I would like pass on my feelings to all your volunteers. I am in the process of trying to write a book on the journey that has been my life and will try to give your organisation the credit it deserves.

Many, many thanks to you all.

Kind Regards

David Whalley MBE. BEM.

About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Friends, Mountain rescue, Views Mountaineering. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to In Praise of the NHS and the Voluntary organisations.

  1. pondbug says:

    I don’t have experience of the WRVS but I’m currently recuperating from major surgery at the ARI. This was a real eye opener for me as regards the NHS. I’ve always supported the concept of the NHS and always said I would happily pay more tax to improve its funding. However that was all fairly hypothetical until my operation! I was totally amazed and impressed by both the scale of resources, esp staff, required to run a big hospital, and by the professionalism of the staff. There was a real sense in the wards that everyone from the porters and cleaners to the nurses and doctors were working as a team to achieve the best they could. The High Dependency Unit where I was for 4 days after my op was particularly good. Having a dedicated nurse who you got to know and who was obviously skilled and confident in her role gave me great comfort and high quality care.
    We would be mad to let the NHS be undermined by underfunding and privatisation!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. John Burson says:

    I was with SARDA in Lockerbie and fully agree with your comments on the WRVS. We stayed at the High School and they were always there for us. One chap who we thought at first was the janitor turned out to be with the WRVS and was always there when we returned. We would wash the dogs in the showers to get the aircraft fuel out of their coats and he would help us dry them off. He was always there to bring a bit of normality back to our life. I wished I could have kept contact with him but didn’t get his name but he certainly helped us deal with being part of such a tragic event. The unsung heroes of Lockerbie.


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