Joint statement by Miller Harris, spokesperson for Glencoe, Lochaber and Cairngorm MRTs (GLC) and member of Lochaber MRT and Steve Penny, Acting-Chair SMR and member of Tweed Valley MRT –
There has been considerable press and social media cover about the decision of Glencoe, Cairngorm and Lochaber MRT’s (GLC) to resign their voting membership of Scottish Mountain Rescue. We both feel that while it is healthy to debate these issues, some of the comments are misinformed and not representative of the position or views of the respective parties within SMR.
Whilst our geographic areas and operational demands are different across Scotland, we all have one thing in common, which is that we are volunteers and as volunteers, we probably have more in common than our differences.
The teams that collectively deliver mountain rescue and search and rescue services across Scotland can deploy personnel into every part of the country and those in need can be comforted in the knowledge that they will receive a world class service that will cost them nothing.
The primary purpose of around 1000 volunteers, currently in SMR, is to offer a wide range of skills that are appropriate to their own local area. Whatever happens in respect of the administration of the organisation, none of that will change …. every team has been set up and runs as its own body and most have done so for around 50 years.
The current discussions have largely been imposed on us all as volunteers by the pressures created by outside influences. We have seen significant changes which have put considerable pressures on rescue teams and the demands on volunteers’ time. This has resulted in increased expectations on what volunteers will contribute in support of reduced resources in the non-voluntary sector. Decisions are being made at a strategic level which ultimately impact on operational expectations of volunteers.
The national body, now called Scottish Mountain Rescue (a charity in its own right), strives to represent all teams. The organisation has been around for 50 years and no-one would ever deny that any organisation with that history must review and refresh to meet the needs of an ever changing operational landscape. So, yes, GLC feel that the national body has lost focus from their point of view and that needs to be resolved. It is healthy that teams can feel that they can question and challenge an organisation that exists to help them deliver at the sharp end. We must accept that Scottish Mountain Rescue (the charity) is entering a period of change, however, Scottish mountain rescue (the activity) as delivered by the teams across Scotland will continue as it has always done.
We must stress that no teams have actually “left” SMR and there is no “split”. GLC would still wish to be affiliated to SMR and will continue to support the wider mountain rescue community in whatever way they can. Where appropriate we believe that the current healthy exchange of skills to facilitate training and information exchanges within the organisation will continue irrespective of the outcome of current discussions.
So, if you are unfortunate enough to need to call on the services of a mountain rescue team anywhere in Scotland then don’t worry …. it’s very much business as normal and we will drop what we are doing, grab the packs and head out to help you! We would hope that we can be allowed to continue our work without the need to make further comment at this time.
End Of Statement
Thank you for the statement above and I wish you and the teams all the best for the future. Have a safe winter and great that “it’s very much business as normal and we will drop what we are doing, grab the packs and head out to help you! We would hope that we can be allowed to continue our work without the need to make further comment at this time.”