THIS year marks a half century of a team of tireless Bolton volunteers saving lives across the region.

Bolton Mountain Rescue Team will be celebrating its 50th year serving the community in 2018.

The team was established in 1968 and currently has 42 volunteers on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

On average, the volunteers respond to 120 calls for its assistance per year — supporting emergency services with search operations for missing people, casualties in difficult to access or remote locations, wild fire incidents on the moors, and water rescue operations.

To mark 50 years of volunteering the team will be holding events and activities throughout 2018 including seasonal guided walks, a family fun day and a gala dinner dance, with more events planned throughout the year.

Bolton Mountain Rescue Team chairman Gillian Leigh said: “2018 is a landmark in the team’s history, 50 years of voluntary service by the team is a milestone and one to be celebrated.

"During the last 50 years our members have given their time and energy to help 1000’s of people.

"We provide this service to our community 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, free of charge with no public funding. During 2018 we will celebrate the last 50 years and look forward to the next 50 years."

In a bid to raise awareness of the group's work, team member Rebecca Royce came up with the idea of posting pictures of two toy elves — Marty and Gwen — joining the team in a range of locations in the run up to Christmas.

Followers of the Mountain Rescue Team's Facebook page will have spotted Marty and Gwen on fundraising collections, training exercises, and at a range of picturesque locations.

The two elves have visited sites including the Pigeon Tower in Rivington, Winter Hill, and Kearsley, where team members helped to evacuate vulnerable people during the disastrous Boxing Day floods of 2015.

To help all events throughout 2018 run smoothly, Steve James, an operational member and the team's medical officer, is planning and coordinating the celebratory year and is seeking support from the community.

He added: “2018 is going to be an exciting year for the team, with many events planned, and I look forward to our 50th year.

"If any organisation, groups or individuals would like to support the team during 2018 or help sponsor any of the planned events please do contact us at:”

The team also has 12 support group members and three reserve members in training, and covers an operational area of 360 square miles down from Rivington to Manchester Airport and from Wigan in the west to Darwen and Bury in the east.

In 2016, the team was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in recognition of its achievements — the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

Earlier this year, it was also among the water rescue groups given a share of £913,000 by the Department for Transport.

Its headquarters is located in the grounds of the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust Headquarters at Ladybridge Hall. It also has vehicles based at with the fire service at Bolton North and Bolton Central stations.

Bolton Mountain Rescue Team is funded entirely by charitable collections and donations from individuals, groups and legacies. To help contribute to operating costs of around £36,000 per annum, donations can be made via or by emailing