Home at Last!
The Glen Team turns the sod on their proposed
purpose-built Rescue Base
The sun shone on the day, and that was the biggest worry. With the weather on our side we felt happier bringing the 60+ guests and friends onto the site. The actual launch of the building will be easier as we’ll have a roof and four walls by then – between 12 and 24 months away depending on funding. To be fair, though, the National Parks and Wildlife Service opened their beautiful Eastern Regional Headquarters to us and allowed us treat it as our own for the day. With access to a conference room, kitchen, parking facilities and of course toilets, the day was very civilised and pleasant indeed – many thanks to all the NPWS staff.
We were really delighted to have such a great turnout – there were members of the Irish Red Cross, the Garda Síochána, the Air Corps, the Wicklow County Partnership, the Wicklow County Council, Dáil Eireann, local hill walking clubs, Mountain Meitheal, many friends and family.
Keeping the day simple, we brought everyone together initially in the NPWS conference room to welcome them to the occasion. We had erected displays with photographs and statistics showed some of the team’s history, recent operations, the Glen Team in action in various conditions, and the range of equipment used.
Following introductions and welcomes, we set out for the site (200m from the building), and started handing out spades and shovels. The idea was very straightforward – as a team we depend upon each other completely, whether on an operation or fundraising or in training, so everyone takes part in turning the sod. It becomes a team effort. The logically extension then was that as a voluntary team we rely on the community to support and fund us, so we decided to give everyone attending a spade (or some garden implement…) and that the symbolic moment of breaking the ground is also a team effort. It was also great fun!
Being a beautiful sunny day, we could have the speeches and a presentation from the Wicklow County Partnership (a spade to represent the grant they awarded the team). Declan O’Sullivan, the Acting Secretary-General of the Irish Red Cross praised the team for their efforts in both operational effectiveness and for meeting the challenge building an Emergency Rescue Base.
Funding has been scarce and many possible sources have failed to materialise. We are doubly grateful to the Wicklow County Partnership (WCP) in this regard, and also to the ordinary members of the community who have fund-raised on behalf of the team and continue to do so.
The base itself will comprise of a fully enclosed and secured vehicle storage area, a rescue equipment cleaning, drying and storage facility, a training Room, and an operations room with all the necessary communications equipment to provide coordination and backup for complicated or extended emergencies. For 27 years we’ve managed by storing vehicles and equipment in various sheds and at members’ homes. The wear and tear adds up despite our best efforts. The existence of the base will doubtless change our team in many ways, but for us, the importance of proper storage and maintenance is key, hence our willingness to take on these obstacles to make it happen.
The main challenge for the team in the coming year or two will be achieving further grants and then even more importantly, matching the grant. This will require tens of thousands of euro, as no grant will exceed 70-75% of the bill. For a voluntary group this is daunting enough. Of course, we are walking a tight rope in the sense that we can’t put so much focus on our fundraising efforts for the base that the team’s operational readiness is affected. Again, we come back to the point that we are reliant on support from the wider community. Hill walking groups, local business people, individuals connected to the team in some way or other – these and many more help with fundraising (every penny goes directly to either operations or the base, and donors can specify). Everyone, however, can help – no contribution is too small.
‘Friends of the Glen Team’, also known as FOG was set up to facilitate people who want to help us but aren’t sure how. There are many events coming up as part of our fund raising drive and we’ll need support to organise and run them, and of course we welcome new ideas!
Look us up on: www.wicklowmountainrescue.ie/fog
or ring us on +353 87 6347286
Also if you would like to contribute tio our new base the visit www.wicklowmountainrescue.ie/buyabit where you can fund a brick, a log, a solar panel or whatever you can.