Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team has been at the forefront of the emergency work during the terrible Christmas floods in its area.

And it comes 50 years since the team was set up in the wake of a tragedy.

It began on November 29, 1965, when 55-year-old reservoir keeper Robert Akrigg set out in treacherous conditions to check the water gauges near Hebden Bridge, but never returned.

Water Board employees accompanied by the police, local farmers and estate keepers were joined by Mountain and Fell Rescue Team members from across the north of England to begin a search.

Video of a sunken barge during the recent flooding in the Calder Valley

Video thumbnail, Sunken barge in the canal at the Calder Valley Greenway
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As the week progressed the search increased in intensity and by the third day more than 300 people were searching the moors, staying from first light until dark without success.

Tim Ingram from the current team said: “With the passing of days the hope of finding Mr Akrigg alive diminished but the searchers never gave up. Throughout the search the wintry conditions were relentless with a biting cold wind causing an icy ‘smoke’ over the whole moors.

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Tragically Mr Akrigg wasn’t found during the search and it was only when the heavy snows of that winter receded some 65 days later on February 11, 1966, that his body was discovered.”

Just a week later on February 18 the moorland rescue team was formed.

Tim added: “As a result of this tragedy an inaugural meeting was held in early 1966 at Hebden Bridge Council Offices with more than 30 people attending. At the meeting Wally Keay, a former leader with Wharfedale Fell Rescue Team, said: ‘There’s nothing heroic or romantic about being in a rescue team – just 5% inspiration and 95% hard slogging. The first priority of a new team is training in navigation and first aid’.”

During this meeting Calder Valley Moorland Rescue Association was formed and they sought the help of Hebden Bridge St John’s Ambulance Brigade to assist with the first aid training.

By 1978 the team was well established and had moved into larger premises which included garaging for the team ambulance. The council offered a long term lease on the Old Coach House, behind the tourist Information Centre in Hebden Bridge.

In 1994 the team moved again into The Rescue Post, a purpose-built property located on land made available by the Mytholmroyd Community Centre.

During 2006 the team reached its 40th Anniversary and received the Queens Award for Voluntary Service. West Yorkshire Chief Constable Colin Cramphorn presented the Award to team President Bob Utley at the anniversary celebrations.

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Video thumbnail, Flooding at Park Road in Elland
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The team costs £35,000 a year to run and relies totally on voluntary donations. It has 50 team members including three doctors, three paramedics, nine swift water and flood rescue technicians, four search dogs and four vehicles.

Last year the team had 58 callouts which equated to 3,290 volunteer hours.

On Saturday, February 6, Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team will be holding a celebration service at St Michaels Church on Church Street, Mytholmroyd, to mark the team’s 50th Anniversary.

To find out more about the team go to www.cvsrt.org.uk