Registered Charity Number 1186781
Welcome to Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team
ON CALL 24/7: 365 DAYS OF THE YEAR: WHATEVER THE WEATHER
Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team is a voluntary organisation responsible for covering the Central section of the Brecon Beacons including South Wales’ highest mountain, Pen y Fan at 886m, Cribyn and Corn Du as well as the Ystradfellte waterfalls, Newport, Cardiff and the valleys. The Team trains regularly, meeting one night a week and a full day exercise once a month. The team is made up of unpaid volunteers, who give up their time to help those that need us. The total area that we provide cover for is 1437 square km.
In 2022 Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team were awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS), the MBE for volunteer groups.
The team is called out by the police and our volunteers are alerted using SARCALL Incident Management Platform sarcall.com. Further messages then inform members of where and what the incident is. Rescuers will respond to the incident either from our Base in Merthyr or directly to the location of the RV.
Covering so much more than just mountains, our area of operation includes Cardiff, Newport and the South Wales valleys. We also work closely with other mountain rescue teams in West and Mid Wales and across the English border. We are all unpaid volunteers, responding to 999 emergencies 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in any weather. We rely on donations from members of the public to carry out this essential life-saving rescue service.
We also have a Flood rescue team including Swift Water Rescue Technicians and Water First Responders.
Central Beacons MRT operates from its base at Merthyr Tydfill near the Brecon Beacons, training regularly, with team members coming from all walks of life from students and school teachers to accountants, office workers and engineers.
(Follow is on Facebook for he latest call outs @cbmrt)
Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team are called out using a call-out system that is activated by the police. Further messages then inform members of where and what the incident is. Members go to base and collect the first response Vehicle and head to the incident site to establish a temporary control.
The team is a fully voluntary organisation, and is on-call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We rely primarily on donations from members of the public to maintain this essential life-saving rescue service. You can support our work by making a regular or one off donation HERE
A Brief History about Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team
The team was originally brought together in 1959 when a police sergeant called Jack Powell was asked to gather together some ‘outdoor’ people to form a team to respond to the growing number of people getting into difficulties in the Brecon Beacons. These were a combination of Police officers and civilian friends who Jack knew in the locality who brought their own equipment and very little else on an informal basis. By the end of 1963, this band of people had expanded through Civil Defence into the beginnings of the Police Civil Defence Mountain Rescue team what is now the Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team. Throughout the 1960’s the number of call outs per year was under 5, the team trained once a month and the call out method in those days was by telephone and bicycles!
Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team receives The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service with individual team members also recieving the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal.
Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team were awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. This is the highest award a local voluntary group can receive in the UK and is equivalent to an MBE.
Working closely with the police and ambulance services, the Team has been providing a rescue service for almost 60 years with members on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, whatever the weather, to assist those injured, lost or needing help in difficult to reach urban, rural and mountainous areas of South Wales.
The Team’s history goes back as far as the Aberfan disaster and includes assisting the emergency services following the deaths of SAS members in the Brecon Beacons in 2013. In 2017 the Team faced its biggest challenge when a fire destroyed all their vehicles, equipment and major damage to their base. Despite this, the Team stayed operational by borrowing vehicles and kit from teams around England & Wales. Today they are back in their rescue base with new vehicles and equipment, averaging over 120 callouts a year. In the more recent past members were involved in relief operations during Storm Dennis just as COVID-19 hit the country in 2020.
Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team is one of 244 local charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. Their work, along with others from across the UK, reminds us of all the ways in which fantastic volunteers are contributing to their local communities and working to make life better for those around them.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by local volunteer groups to benefit their communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation. Award winners this year are wonderfully diverse. They include volunteer groups from across the UK, including: a rural support group for farmers in Shropshire; a community magazine addressing isolation in the Western Isles; a running club engaging all ages in County Tyrone; a film academy and community hub based in South Wales, and a food bank in Greater London feeding vulnerable individuals and providing training opportunities.
Penny Brockman, Chair of Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team said: “We are absolutely delighted and immensely proud to have our sixty years of service to the community recognised with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest accolade for any charity. This award is testament to the dedication and commitment of all our team members, past and present, who have remained on call 24/7, throughout the year — whatever the weather — to help those in need in South Wales. It is recognition, too, for their families and employers who stand compassionately behind us as we leave home or work at a moment’s notice to help others. We couldn’t do what we do without their support and understanding.”
2017 was our busiest year in our history with over 140 call outs, it was also the year that a fire broke out at our base.
Fire broke out on the evening of Saturday 25 November, destroying or severely damaging an estimated £250,000 worth of vehicles and emergency rescue and medical equipment, and leaving us without a fully functioning base. Central Beacons team members have responded to 130 call-outs so far this year including injured walkers and climbers, missing persons and animals and swift-water incidents. The devastating fire comes at a critical time of year, with the run-up to Christmas always a busy period.
This decade has already seen the team responding to 3 major incidents
- April Jones, October 2012 when the team were called to respond to support the search with other Mountain Rescue teams in Machynlleth. The team members spent over 6 days on this incident providing over 2000 hours of support.
- In 2012 members of the team were awarded the Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal
- 3 Soldiers Hyperthermia, July 2013 the team were the civilian mountain rescue lead for this incident working closely with the military in dealing with the evacuation of 5 injured soldiers tragically 3 of them died of heat injuries
- Lightning Strikes July 2015 saw the team being called to walkers who had taken direct hits from lightening. Working with Brecon Mountain Rescue team and the RAF Sea king this saw the evacuation of multiple casualties sadly two died from being hit by lightning.
As well as incidents now between 80 – 100 a year.
Once again there was a major shift in technology where we saw mobile technology starting to play a larger part in us being called out. The team was honoured to host Prince William when he became the Patron for Mountain Rescue England and Wales.
As technology moved on then our callout process did not have to rely on the telephone system as we moved onto a paging system. This means that all team members could be paged with one telephone call.
By the early 90s we were dealing with about 40 call-outs per year, and had a growing membership.
We began to work more closely with the ambulance service supporting them with severe weather conditions. We also supported the RSPCA by training them on rope rescue techniques to be able to deal with trapped animals.
In 1996 whilst the team were on their Sunday Exercise, they were called to respond to Ten Tors. The weather was at its worse with snow, wind, thick mist and severe freezing temperatures meant that it was stopped part way through and two thousand young persons needed to be evacuated from the moors. The team responded with both vehicles and about 10 of their members to provide backup to the Dartmoor team. A video of this can be seen at the bottom of this page.
This decade also saw the team being called for:
- A blind person who was walking the tops of the Beacons and placed a wrong footing and fell down the side of Cribyn with the support of the RAF Seeking this injured person was evacuated to hospital.
- Being called for over 100 people missing on the Brecon Beacons when a large Jewish group holidaying in the Brecon Beacons decided to undertake a 25-mile route over the Brecon Beacons.
This decade saw the team acquire their operational base in Merthyr Tydfil still today the home of the team. During this time the team became involved in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, both as assessors and as part of the volunteer section of the award. This scheme inspired a number to join the team. 1982 the team were called due to their 4 x 4 capability because of the heavy snow that hit South Wales. The team provided a continuous 24-hour service for 3 days providing ambulance support. It also saw tragedy when on the 1st May 1983, Mike Ruddal, Team Leader of Bridgend Mountain Rescue Team, (also known as Nog) died on the Brecon Beacons. The team were already in the Brecon Beacons providing safety cover for an event and dealing with an incident when they were informed of an incident on Pen y Fan. Mike Ruddal also on the incident agreed to go and investigate. With the team receiving no response from Mike Ruddal, two members descended the north side of Pen y Fan. They found Mike’s body he had died shielding one of the casualties with his own body, when a rock fall killed him. In 1988 with the Lockerbie bombing one of our team members responded to this incident with their search dog.
During the 1970’s the calls started to increase and with this the team required more equipment to support these call outs. They were extremely fortunate. One night the team were on exercise in Torpantau when out of the blue a chap came along and donated a four-wheel drive lorry ambulance, which had once served at RAF Farnborough. This was large enough to contain the stretcher and in the front a radio box and became the teams first control vehicle. The team were also donated a number of radios
By the end of 1963, this band of people had expanded through Civil Defence into the beginnings of the Police Civil Defence Mountain Rescue team what is now the Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team. Throughout the 1960s the number of call outs per year were under 5 and the team trained once a month. The team dealt with various incidents over the early years, including the • Search for a military Vulcan Aircraft, which flew into Fan Bwlch Chwyth in the Brecon Beacons 11 February 1966 whilst on a training flight. The aircraft struck near the top of the mountains and broke apart over a large area, killing the five-crew members. The team assisted with the handling of the bodies brought down from the mountain. This made the national papers.
Although it wasn’t a mountain rescue incident, the team was called in 1967, when Aberfan Disaster struck: Jack was actually appointed the Site Rescue Officer of this very tragic event which still lives on in the minds of those in that South Wales area. During the early days of the team, equipment was basic, to say the least!! A single stretcher, a casualty bag on loan and lowering ropes on loan, some bits and pieces of first aid kit and some “ropey” ropes constituted the entire equipment list of the team, other than the kit the team members provided themselves. The call out method in those days was by telephone and bicycles! During the latter part of the 1960s the Government made the decision to disband Civil Defence in the UK. This became the birth of a civilian team Morlais Mountain Rescue Team.