Fell rescue hopes go up in Olympic flames

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A FELL rescue group is facing a financial black hole after its major annual fundraiser had to be cancelled because of the Olympic Torch relay.

The Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association will miss out on almost £10,000 to keep its life-saving service running.

It has relied on the Broughton Game Show to fund one-third of its annual running costs for the last 32 years.

But this year’s show is cancelled because the Olympic torch will be making its way through Skipton, on the same date.

Rescuers are now fearing for the future despite reporting an increase in the number of call-outs every year.

Volunteer David Dennis said: “We have been going for 63 years and we are lucky that local people have helped us get the funds together.

“We have no other income and the big event to earn £10,000 in a weekend is everything to us.

The loss of that means dire straights for us.”

Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association, based in Grassington, was called out to 39 rescues last year – five of those were fatalities.

It dedicated 1,721 hours last year to saving people who had got into difficulty and was on stand-by for a further five incidents.

It costs at least £34,000 a year to operate the service and the number of call-outs it receives has increased from just nine incidents in 2001.

But the unpaid team has vowed to continue its work.

Organisers of the show said that they feared spectators would shun the event for the Olympic torch arrival.

Chairman David Aynesworth said: “A change of date was considered, however a number of main attractions and traders reported that they were already booked up for alternative weekends.

“It was decided that putting on a sub-standard show could be detrimental for following years.

“We cannot risk not covering our substantial outlay so we have reluctantly decided to cancel this year’s event.”