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Ten Tors heroes
Friday, 18 May 2012
Six of the best: Roger Harris, Ed Morris, Grace Mulligan, Maddie Arnold, Annie Rankin and Glen Black
Students rescue team stuck in bog
KINGSBRIDGE Community College’s 55-mile Ten Tors team were the heroes of the day on Sunday – when they sacrificed completing their challenge on time to help rescue younger competitors from a treacherous moorland bog.
The 55 mile team – Roger Harris, Ed Morris, Grace Mulligan, Maddie Arnold, Annie Rankin and Glen Black – had just completed their tenth and final tor and were on their final 8km leg to finish the competition in Okehampton when they heard whistles blowing about 600 metres away. They were in one of the most remote parts of the moor and made their way to the sounds of distress where they found two younger members of a 35-mile team chest deep in the well known Raybarrow Pool – a deep and unforgiving bog on remote north west Dartmoor.
The girls were quite distressed and were still wearing their full rucksacks and were getting quite cold.
They had blundered into the bog while following a compass bearing on their last leg in the challenge.
Their other team members tried to reach them to drag them to safety but were at risk of getting stuck themselves.
Their only means of calling for help was a mobile phone, but this was stuck in the rucksack of one of the trapped girls.
Roger Harris from the Kingsbridge College team acted quickly.
He used his team phone to call the emergency services.
They put him in contact with the Ten Tors operations room.
Harris quickly gave them their position and a sea king helicopter with members of the Dartmoor Rescue Group on board was deployed to pull the girls to safety.
Roger said: ‘It took quite a while for the helicopter to arrive, and then they had trouble finding a suitable place to land as the ground is extremely wet around there.
‘The girls were tired and freezing cold, but we tried to keep them calm and told them help was on the way.’
As soon as the girls were safe the Kingsbridge team carried on with their last leg.
But the Ten Tors rules stipulate that all teams must complete the challenge by 5pm on the Sunday evening or they will be disqualified.
The team had spent over an hour helping with the rescue.
A nervous band of parents were waiting for them at the finish line, knowing nothing about their heroic efforts out on the moor.
When the students didn’t appear by 5pm their parents and teachers assumed something had happened.
However, at 5.15pm they appeared over the horizon, going strong and determined to complete their expedi-tion. They were welcomed by the Ten Tors director, Brigadier Piers Hankinson, who personally assured them that they would not be disqualified and they would receive their medals and certificate.
The team were rushed onto the podium and presented with their medals and the Brigadier thanked the team for their courage and superb attitude towards fellow competitors.
Brigadier Hankinson, Commander of 43 (Wessex) Brigade, said: ‘On behalf of those involved in running the Ten Tors and Jubilee Challenge, I would like to congratulate this team for their selfless sacrifice, potentially forfeiting their own medals to help others in need,
‘I personally met them at the finish to thank them, and directed that the competition be kept open.
It was a huge privilege for me to be able to award them with their extremely well-deserved Ten Tors medals.
‘This is an excellent example of selfless action by one group of teenagers to another in challenging circumstances.
‘I would also like to thank the multi-agency Ten Tors Ops Room for its impressive coordinated response to the incident.
‘Devon and Cornwall Police acted quickly on the emergency call.
‘They passed it to colleagues in the Army-run Operations Room at Okehampton Camp, which despatched a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter with members of Dartmoor Rescue Group on board. Once successfully recovered, the casualties were looked after by the British Red Cross, based in Okehampton Camp, in the medical centre.’
Neil Cameron, head of outdoor education at Kingsbridge College said: ‘I’m absolutely overcome with admiration for the team.
‘Their selfless attitude towards those younger team competitors is fantastic. It proves to me that the Ten Tors challenge is about so much more than just crossing the finish line.’
Principal Roger Pope said: ‘We had more students taking part in Ten Tors than ever before and I am enormously proud of them all.
‘I would like to offer particular congratulations to the 55 mile team who can stand tall as real heroes.’
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