herald

Thursday 23 November 2017

LIFESAVERS

How thousands have been raised through the Flora Women's Mini Marathon to aid the vital work of mountain rescue teams

You've headed off for a day of ice climbing in remote Co Wicklow when your companion falls and badly breaks a leg. The light is fading fast, it's bitterly cold and there's not another soul to be seen.

Fortunately, you have a mobile phone with you and you head off in search of a signal, leaving your companion well wrapped up. Not content to wait and freeze, your companion then fashions a home-made splint and starts crawling after you.

Within an hour or so, mountain rescue has found both of you. It's slow and painful work getting to the rescue Land Rover, but the crisis is over.

Every year, hundreds of people get into trouble in the hills. These can be walkers and mountain bikers as well as climbers. There to bail them out are volunteer rescue groups; men and women who have signed up simply because they love the hills.

Although mountain rescue groups get grants, fundraising is vital.

"Last year we had about 40 women taking part in the Flora Women's Mini Marathon and we raised almost €4,000. We made a day of it -- we took a bus from Laragh and had a celebration dinner after," says Anouk O'Connell of the Friends of the Glen (FOG) team, who support the cause.

Family, friends, neighbours and colleagues all help raise funds. "We also get some people who aren't involved in the team at all and are looking for a good cause."

All the money raised by this year's Mini Marathon will go towards the rescue base building project at Laragh, Co Wicklow -- the gateway to the Wicklow mountains.

"We've got 70pc grant funding for Phase 1 and since building has just started, we're pushing hard to make up the shortfall," says Hugh McLindon, PRO of the Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue team.

Apart from the mini-marathon, a series of concerts, gigs, races, quizzes and challenges are in the pipeline, organised by FOG.

"I have been rescued myself and it is the sweetest sight when you see those mountain rescuers coming over the horizon to carry you to the nearest hospital," says Hugh McLindon. "If you can assist us in even the smallest way, then you will be helping save lives in the mountains."

3To join the FOG mini marathon team, contact Anouk O'Connell at 087-6347286. Or see www.fog.wmr.ie

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