Penrith Mountain Rescue Team Vehicle Gets Kitted Out Thanks To £3,000 Newcastle Building Society

Release Date: 26 February

A new Penrith Mountain Rescue Team vehicle is getting fully kitted out thanks to a four-figure grant awarded through the local Newcastle Building Society branch.

The 40-strong volunteer team is responsible for carrying out rescues across 2,500 square kilometres of land, an area which includes much of north Cumbria and the Lake District as well as parts of south west Scotland.

As part of extending the resources available to support the services it provides, it has recently taken delivery of a people carrier that has been converted to make it suitable for patient transport.

After being nominated by David Houldridge, a customer at Newcastle Building Society's Market Square branch in Penrith, a £3,000 grant has been given by the Society to pay for a range of equipment that will be used inside the vehicle.

This includes a new defibrillator, breathing apparatus and medical gases, communications equipment, locks to hold patient stretchers in place during transportation, roof rails, snow chains and a variety of other first aid kit

The funding has been provided by the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which has been set up to provide grants to charities and community groups that are located in or around the communities served by the Society's branch network, and put forward for support by its customers.

Penrith Mountain Rescue Team provides a 24/7 search and rescue service to the public every day of the year and works across an area which includes Haweswater, Wigton, Ullswater, Alston and Kielder, and is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

The team carried out well over 60 rescues during 2018, with each one undertaken by whichever of its volunteers are available when the call for help comes in.

The Mountain Rescue Team gets no public funding, and needs to raise at least £25,000 every year to meet its annual running costs.

Kevin Dowding, chairperson of Penrith Mountain Rescue Team, says: “We've just had one of our busiest ever years, and demand is continuing to grow for our help, which is in turn driving us towards increasing the range of resources we can access to effect rescues.

"Adding this new vehicle to our fleet means we can get more people to and from rescue areas, and gives us greater flexibility in how we respond to each situation, but it obviously needs equipment to go in it that will allow us to provide the medical and logistical help that's needed.

"Being wholly self-financed means we have a lot of different costs to cover, so getting this sort of generous support from Newcastle Building Society means we can direct our existing resources towards other areas.

"We're all set to celebrate 60 years of lifesaving work across the region in 2019 and plan to use the anniversary as a platform for building a sustainable future by recruiting more volunteers from across the area."

Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has contributed over £265,000 in grants to projects across the Society's North East and Cumbria heartland, and is so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 129,000 people.

Grant applications for a maximum of £3,000 can be made in any Society branch or via the website by customers who wish to support their local communities.  There are larger grants of up to £50,000 also available to assist groups in improving or maintaining community buildings.

Matt Taylor, manager at Newcastle Building Society's Penrith branch, adds: “The commitment, bravery and dedication of the volunteers who make up the Penrith Mountain Rescue Team is second to none, and their expertise makes a crucial difference in many challenging and dangerous situations.

“Having a positive impact on the communities in which we're based is an essential part of the Society's operations, and supporting an organisation which any of us could one day need is an ideal way to do this."

The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.

For more information on the work of the Penrith Mountain Rescue Team and to find out more about the joining process, visit