Thursday, 28 March 2013

Did You Know Just How Little the Scottish Government Gives to Mountain Rescue Teams? More Funding Needed to Ensure the Safety of Walkers in the Scottish Highlands.


(The view taken from the top of Buachaille Etive Mor.)

Since the beginning of January 2013, thirteen people have died in the Scottish mountains.  That's less than 3 months in which thirteen people have lost their lives doing something they truly love and are passionate about.

The good old Great British press have, as per usual, instigated their typical knee jerk reaction to these tragedies and have called for a curb on climbers being allowed on the mountains.  The general opinions that I've been hearing are that people shouldn't be allowed on the mountains, or that they are wasting tax payers money.  That it's their own fault if they die, that they're being selfish going out endangering the lives of the search and rescue people who will be called out in the event that something happens to them.  


(Buachaille Etive Mor completed!!  Best feeling EVER!!)

As someone who has grown up exploring these very hills and mountains, and who has parents who are out climbing these very peaks practically every other weekend...as well as further peaks in England, Wales, Ireland, Mexico, Peru...Everest...it absolutely rattles my cage to hear the garbage that comes out of some peoples mouths regarding this very subject!!  

We live in one of the most gorgeous places on the planet, and yet there are those who will sit there and bitch and moan about the people that actually want to go and explore it!  The main complaint I've heard is that those who go out hillwalking are "wasting the tax payers money".  In the slim chance that something does actually happen, what these idiots don't actually realise is that the government gives very freakin' little to mountain rescue services.  In fact, it's embarrassing just how little our own government support these amazing people.  They give more support to the people that do NOTHING!!


At this present moment in time, the government grant for the Scottish Mountain Rescue Teams is a pathetic, measly £312,000...for the WHOLE of Scotland!!!  This is NOT a case of "wasting tax payers money".  Hell, our own government basically exploit the mountains for profit and yet give practically zero back in return.  
"The 27 civilian, voluntary Scottish Mountain and Cave Rescue Teams, rely on charitable donations and bequests from members of the public as well as local and national businesses, in order that they may continue to deliver the service they provide."

The individuals out there risking their lives as part of the civilian, voluntary teams, they are doing this because they love these mountains.  They understand and respect them.  They want millions more to be able to appreciate their beauty, and I have so much admiration for each and every one of them.


(Glencoe - if it's good enough for Bond...)

USA news station CNN has listed Scotland as the number one worldwide destination to visit in 2013...that is potentially a huge tourism boost.  One of the reasons attributed to CNN's decision is thought to be down to the huge success of not only Disney Pixar movie Brave, but also to James Bond kicking ass with Judi Dench in Skyfall.  A film that was largely featured in the Glencoe...the very home to some of the most potentially treacherous mountains in Scotland.  


(Dame Judi Dench and Daniel Craig taking in the bleak, yet stunning sights of Glencoe in Skyfall.)

With movies such as Skyfall, Brave, Prometheus and Harry Potter making people the world over want to come and visit Scotland and the wonderful scenery it provides, and the fact that the Scottish government use images of these very same mountains to draw people to this country...it forms part of a massive £1.4 BILLION tourist economy.  An industry that the Scottish government want to increase by 50% by 2015!!  That is a massive target, and one that surely requires the government to re-evaluate their funding towards mountain rescue.


(My sister Moosey and I out exploring Glencoe...with extra added Nessie, courtesy of my friend Rob.  See, even Nessie wanted to go and explore further lochs in Scotland!!)

Walkers and climbers are smarter and more equipped now than ever and at the end of the day, accidents happen.  Considering that such a huge part of the Scottish economy comes from tourism, rather than criticising those who enjoy the pleasure and freedom gained from walking the vast stretch of unspoilt territory Scotland provides, the government should actually be putting more money into supporting and educating people to the challenges that walking the Scottish Highlands brings.  



(There is no better feeling in the world than camping in the Scottish Highlands, and Glencoe in particular is one of the single most beautiful places on earth, and should be explored!!)

The world around us was meant for exploring.  It keeps both our minds and our bodies ticking away.  It is also one of the best ways to learn, and soak in the rich history, and all that has gone before.  From a geological and environmental perspective, to that of those who have walked there before us.  If the Scottish government want to keep the compelling history of Scotland alive for people to explore, they need to think about putting more into it, instead of taking away from it.  Accidents will still happen, life would not be life without death.  And with each death on the mountain, it brings a terrible sadness.  We should honour the memory of these people by being able to walk once again in their steps.  

One last photo for you to enjoy...this was taken last September, and was the last walk my parents did before taking on Mount Everest Base Camp.  With some of my family from Canada coming over to visit, whilst on a tour of Europe, they decided, why not take on Ben Nevis!?!  Jim and Annie Szpajcher, joined my mum and dad, and auntie Corinne and her partner Steve, along with my cousin Dominique and her now fiance Kevin...and their doggy Pippa to climb the highest mountain in both Scotland, and the UK.  Along with them was also Team Cooper mascot Alistair McAlistair...the wonderful bunny~feets who does a whole lotta trekkin'!! ;) They all had a wonderful time, and are so happy to say that they have done it.  And Jim and Annie were ecstatic to say that they had come all the way over from the Rockies in Canada to take on their first summit, and it was Ben Nevis!!  That's something that would made anyone proud...please don't take this away from people.  


Edited to add yet another death up in Glencoe after an experienced skier was killed in an avalanche.  That brings the number of deaths up to 14.  :(

2 comments:

  1. Shocking that such a valuable service receives so little from the government.
    Whenever I see a collection box for one of the MRTs I always make a donation, I do the same with the RNLI, putting money towards a service in the hope that I never need to use it.

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  2. I am the exact same with the lifeboat too. We need to support these services, and so does our government. It is scandalous how little is actually given to life saving services, yet they give hand outs to those that have absolutely no desire to work, or even volunteer to support their local communities. I find that absolutely despicable!!

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