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History

The Beginning

Tom Gilchrist, one of the Teams’ founder members was asked to give an account of the Team in the beginning, he writes:

“It all began with a Mr Chapman who was involved with the sports side of Clackmannan County Council.  He had organised a ” Safety on the Hills” programme over four days.  It involved people like myself and other members of the Ochils Mountaineering Club, as well as Scouts.  Eric Langmuir was there to add his weight.  Up until then rescue on the Ochils was the usual – who was available – shepherds, farmers etc, and out of these meetings came the idea of a Rescue Team to cover the area.

The other teams within reach were the Lomonds and a young Killin Team.   Eric gave us a lot of help in forming the team, which was made up mostly of members of the OMC and some senior Scout Masters.  I became Secretary/Treasurer and Equipment Officer and general dogsbody.  Calling ourselves ” The Ochil Hills Rescue Team”; we were later renamed “The Ochils Mountain Rescue Team” some years later.

Gaining Experience

We had about thirty members – all good climbers and experienced hill walkers. Despite this we still had to gain experience in stretcher lowering/raising techniques to cope with incidents on very steep sided glens and gorges of the Ochils. To discourage the “glory seekers”, we conducted a daylong line march up in the Maddy Moss area. In this way we managed to keep a good team of enthusiasts willing to put up with the “lousy” bits of Mountain Rescue.

Equipment?

For a start we had no money.

McLarens Sport shop in Bridge of Allan gave us a sleeping bag and two rucksacs.  Scobie Sports of Alloa ordered two reels of hawser-laid rope; kermantel rope had not arrived yet. As time went by we were finding that the lengths of our ropes were becoming shorter and shorter (hawser ropes make good towropes – say no more!).  From ship chandlers in Glasgow we acquired figures of eight, which were cast iron; about 10 inches long and weighed at least 4lbs each (pre metric days)!

The only good thing about them was that they didn’t heat up as the aluminium ones do when the rope flies through them.  A concert by The Corries got us our McInnes stretcher and we gathered money from Alloa Round Table, and the Guides and Scouts.

I made a trip to Dundee to a company making protective clothing for the oil industry.  I purchased 12 jackets, which had a reasonable quilted waistcoat; all were bright yellow and that was the first personal equipment handed out, long before Gore-Tex.  We also got some Joe Brown helmets.

Training

We trained the first Sunday of each month. The fact was mentioned by the late Ben Humble at an MRC of S meeting that we were the only team in Scotland to have a regular training programme, which gave me a “kick”.

Our HQ was a cell in the old Alva Police Station in Queen Street until we managed to move our HQ to Menstrie Scout hall where we stayed for many years.  As the years went by we raised more money and acquired more gear including personal gear e.g. jackets, gloves, gaiters etc.

I also got to know the gentleman in charge of sports at Stirling University.  At that time the University had an outdoor centre on the shores of Loch Rannoch.  We spent many a weekend summer and winter at Rannoch under the direction of Brian Hall.

We got there in the Alva Academy bus driven by Willie Nicol who was a teacher and member of the team.  We had a few epics with the bus in the winter! Brian was an excellent mountain instructor and certainly put us through our paces and many’s the time we limped back to the Centre after a hard day on the hills.  Unfortunately it was not renowned for the generosity of it’s catering and it was rumoured that the trees for a half – mile radius had their bark chewed off!!

Rescues

In the early days, we had no Team Leader and only about 10 team members and the first person on the scene became the leader for the incident.

Our first rescue was an early Friday morning when a local shepherd was blown over the cliffs in the Kirk Craigs area. It was a rather messy rescue as the poor victim’s face had hit everything on the way down. In those days we couldn’t move the body until the Police doctor (Dr Jago) gave us the OK. That all changed when we acquired Dr Janet Scott, our first doctor in the team. We now have two doctors and all team members have first aid certificates.

After about ten years I gave up the Secretary’s job and became Chairman.  We now have a Team Leader and Deputy, Secretary, Treasurer, Equipment Officer and Training Officer – changed days.  Rescues increased over the years (we had 14 last year 1999) and the team has gone from strength to strength.

We now have our own HQ in the grounds of Clackmannan Council’s plant nursery, just off the A91 between Alva and Menstrie, consisting of a store room, meeting room and a garage to house our land rover.  We meet on the first Wednesday of the month with a training day on the first Sunday of the month.  The team still holds winter skills training weekends, usually under the direction Peter Cliff or mild mannered Mick Tighe, but we shall draw a veil over them!”

Tom Gilchrist (1999)

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