One-man team

"Once we were up on Silver Howe, once over, a lady and Jimmy Williamson from the gardens up there - there was only Jim, I'd come at Hayes's Gardens at Grasmere and asked him if he would come with me and we went up Silver Howe. This old gentleman he came down to tell us his wife had broken her leg - a little man from...

C: Mr. Oakfield.

R: Mr. Oakfield - he says "I'll come with you" - did you know Mr. Oakfield, a little chappie. He was an old man then. Well, we got up on Silver Howe and went all over that Fell looking for her. The old chap had forget where she was. But anyway, we got up and found her - it was a warm summer's day and it was really hot and we come down. Mr. Oakfield . . and I think this lady's husband was in the front and I was in the back with Jimmy Williamson carrying her down and I said before we set off, "We'll only fasten one leg in case we slip". Well, we hadn't got so far, we're on a real mossy slopey piece you know, and it was real wet and one of them slipped at the front of the stretcher and the lady just slurred off, right down this mossy slope. We couldn't help but laugh. Her clothes come up over her shoulders and she was absolutely . . . she took it all in good part and she was no worse but she was absolutely wet through. And we brought her down and she was quite jokey about it and we were up to the knees. 'Cos you know what this moss is like when you're . . .

I: Wet moss!

R: And we were absolutely soaked and we carried her off Silver Howe and took her to Kendal hospital. Then we had another up on . . oh, forgetting the name - the tarn, up Grasmere - Easedale Tarn, Easedale Tarn. That was a matron and she broke her leg right up past Easedale Tarn and old Fred Lace and I went up by ourselves and we just stopped people that was coming down to give us a hand and turn back. It was after midnight when we brought her off and she was a matron from some hospital. It seemed as though we'd got super strength somehow, that night. There was only three or four of us. A chap called Joe Winson from Grasmere, I don't know whether you know him. If ever we were shorthanded, I often set out on my own to go on these mountain rescue jobs because there was no-one available.

I: This happened often, did it? You'd be out there...

R: Oh yes.

C: During work hours, when the men were at work you see.

I: How did . . . did the others come to you first?

R: I was responsible for the ambulance turning out, you see. I had the call day and night. I did that for years."

From the Ambleside Oral History Group archive