All systems go for Friends in the Mountains

INTREPID explorer Banjo Bannon was the star turn as the Friends in the Mountains fundraising group officially began their efforts to buy a new Land Rover for the Mourne Mountain Rescue team.

Banjo gave an inspiring talk about his climb up K2, the most dangerous mountain in the world, and was happy to talk to fans about his experiences afterwards.

Members of the rescue team were at the event, held in the Jethro Centre in Lurgan, as well as a large turnout of fellow ramblers who wanted to support the event.

One of the fundraisers, Eddie Scott, told the assembled crowd why the group - made up of four friends from the district - had got together and what their aims were.

“Several months ago a gust of wind blew one of our friends, Davy Jess, over a wall. He was badly injured and needed the Mountain Rescue team. That one incident made us aware of what they are all about because he was so lucky.

“We are just a group of guys who walk together and now we want to do anything we can to help the Mountain Rescue team out. We want to make people aware of what services they provide and our main objective is to hold fundraising events with the aim of raising funds for a Land Rover.”

Fellow fundraiser, Kathy Dawson, added, “There are only four of us and we need all the help we can to raise the money needed. We have outlined a number of events already, building up to a 20 man walk along Hadrian’s Wall, but we also welcome other fundraising suggestions.”

David Sloan, secretary of the Ulster Federation of Rambling Clubs, added, “We are an umbrella group for 34 walking clubs and 2,000 members in total who either have done or may need to use the services of the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team.

“The UFRC appreciate the efforts of the team and endorse these fundraising efforts.”

Ed Kilgore MBE, Chairman of the MMRT, outlined some of the background to the team and said that they welcomed any support they could get.

“We are on call 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as is our equipment and, as is natural when you use any sort of equipment on rough terrain, it can become damaged.

“That gear needs to be replaced and, unfortunately, it doesn’t come cheaply. We exist to help everyone and so it is important that we get support like this and I would encourage everyone to get behind this.”

The team gave a demonstration of some of the equipment they use, including their new state-of-the-art Communications Van.

A raffle followed and the fundraising group would like to thank those who donated prizes, as well as everyone who came along for supporting the event.

A number of events have been lined up in the lead-up to the Hadrian’s Wall walk, including a five-a-side football tournament, sponsored cycle and bag pack. Anyone interested in taking part in these, or who wants further information on these events or on the Hadrian’s Wall walk should contact Eddie on 07890886453 or email Kathy on kathydawson@tiscali.co.uk