THE new base for the Galloway Mountain Rescue Team has been officially opened.
Sir Malcolm Ross, Prior of the Order of St John Scotland and Lord-Lieutenant of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, officially opened the new facility in Princes Avenue, Newton Stewart, on Saturday.
Derek Hamilton, Galloway Mountain Rescue Team chairman, said: “The building was originally built around 60 years ago as the town fire station, and occupied from 1966 by the Scottish Ambulance Service; so it’s fitting that it is still being used today, by mountain rescue, providing an emergency service.
“It was actually four years ago that we first heard that it may be possible to acquire the building for the team and we owe huge thanks, first to Dumfries and Galloway Council for releasing it under a very reasonable arrangement and also the local councillors of that period who supported our request.”
Sir Malcolm Ross added: “St John Scotland are pleased and proud to support Scottish Mountain Rescue and greatly admire the way mountain rescue teams in Scotland provide a voluntary search and rescue service for people at risk, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I am absolutely delighted that St John has been able to join with the council, local companies and the team members in providing this major new resource for the Galloway Mountain Rescue Team.”
Kenny Paterson, chairman of the St John Dumfries and Galloway Committee, said: “This is the latest of 12 bases provided by St John Scotland to 10 Scottish mountain rescue teams at a cost of £1.9m. As another part of our major programme of support to Scottish Mountain Rescue, we have also funded a vehicle for each of 26 teams, at a cost of £660.000. We are thrilled at being a part of this venture.”
Mike McCann, the current and eighth GMRT leader, said: “The Galloway Mountain Rescue Team, or the Galloway Search and Rescue Group as it was originally called, was formed in 1975. The opening of the base therefore marks a very special moment in our history. After 37 years of taking up space in the local police station, we have at last space of our own to house our ever increasing stock of equipment.”
Ken MacKenzie, depute team leader and the person responsible for overseeing the renovation work, added: “The public in Galloway and South Ayrshire are continual supporters of our team and much of the money raised from them recently, has helped us furnish the base. We strive to provide a professional service and without the organisations and the people who support us, that challenge would be much greater.
“Massive thanks go to the Order of St John, as without its support this project would not have been possible.”
Around 80 invited guests, former members and the public joined the team to celebrate the opening. A Royal Navy Sea King helicopter from HMS Gannet, Prestwick, saluted the new base with a fly past to conclude the ceremony. The public were able to tour the new facility and see first-hand the vehicles and other rescue equipment used.