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    Sunday, 14 December 2014 13:46

    Trainee Xmas Bash

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    This evening the new Trainees will be demonstrating their organisational and innovation skills by hosting the rest of the team in the annual “Trainee Xmas Bash”.

    Being a team member is more than just knowing how to search for someone and provide first aid when they are found. As a team we all have to interact and work well together, and so events like this evening, whilst good fun for all involved, are also designed to showcase the new Trainees’ talents in self-organising without supervision, and to show “team spirit”.

    Traditionally the evening will involve mince pies and mulled wine at some point (helpful hint to any trainees that may have forgotten this – there’s still time!) but the rest of the evening’s festivities are entirely up to the trainees themselves, and are kept a secret from the rest of us. It’s a nice Christmas surprise to the team before our Christmas training break (but we are still on call throughout the festive period).

    So good luck to the trainees, it will all go well, and to everyone else, Merry Christmas from Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team – Ashburton.

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    The class of 2016

    On Saturday 12th November this year Devon charity Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton held its annual trainee selection day. Following the assessment 5 lucky candidates were invited to join the search and rescue team as trainees, attending their first training evening just 4 days later. Becky, one of the new intake was invited to blog about her first few days in the team and she kindly obliged. Thanks Becky!

    Read about Becky’s first week below.

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    Becky’s first week.

    The first day. The first week. Five new trainees with lots of ‘no question is a stupid question’ questions. Only a week ago we had no idea if we would be stood among the red jackets at Hemsworthy Gate as we still had Saturday’s assessment day to get through.

    Anyway cutting that story short, five of us got that wonderful phone call and here we are on our very first training night.

    A few faces we don’t know from our assessment day – and to be honest I didn’t recognise many people I had already met now with their hats on. The pub later solved that mystery.

    Back to the task in hand. We were allocated our search teams and given our jobs to do. With the help of Al I was in charge of Dart 23’s radio. My days working in the office of a ferry company paid off slightly with a marginally greater confidence in using the radio. Though it took me a while to work out the wind affects the message – hopefully it didn’t give the controllers too much of a headache.

    Fairly quickly the other two teams located the ‘casualties’ who had been reported missing after going out for a walk. They were on the top of the Tor and had various different injuries, one was unconscious.

    It was pretty inspiring watching all the casualty carers spring into action and from the perspective of a newbie it all looked rather professional.

    We then helped with the stretcher back down from the Tor. It looked a pretty smooth ride from my angle, though Dart 23 were obviously the better stretchers bearers… That’s what Alec said anyway.

    We were soon enough having our debrief and the night seemed to be over in a flash. It was back to the pub and my first visit to the Rugglestone Inn at Widecombe. Definitely think I’ll be making a sneaky trip back there.

    It was a great first training night and we were certainly made to feel very welcome, roll on next week.

    Wednesday, 30 November 2016 13:43

    First Experience of the fabled All Night Nav

    The All Night Navigation Exercise

    In the second post from the 2016 intake of team trainees, Dave blogs about his first experience of the All Night Navigation Exercise. The event is a right of passage for our team trainees and takes place towards the end of them completing their log book. For the newbies, we invite them along so they can see what awaits them in around about 12 months time and they can see the skill and pressure which will be expected of them. For their first experience though it is very much about enjoyment and getting to know some of the team members.

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    My first introduction to the Team All Night Navigation Exercise

    ‘So Dave, how was your first all night navigation exercise?’ This was put to me and really it was exactly what it said on the tin.

    The sea of headlights greeted each other with blinding head torch introductions from strange people. However, through the crowd immersed a nervous Bex, one of the 2015 trainees undergoing her assessment,  carrying her bodyweight in torches. I think the total was 7, supplying enough candlepower to send a distress signal to space.

    Before we set off we were given a quick brief from an unknown head torch (turned out to be Navigation Team member Rob Dixon) about the new recruits not shying away from navigation during the evening essentially.

    Soon we arrived at Lud Gate and Lee stepped up to navigate the first stage of the trip. I was so engrossed in a conversation with a random head torch and completely absent minded until they suddenly asked me where we were on the map. Luckily Stuart was there with his map pointing to the exact point; I then gave an approving nod.

    Once we were at Pupers Hill it was my turn to take on the navigation. My job was to navigate from Pupers Hill to our campsite for the night, T Girt. So leaving the comfort of the track I headed out on bearing brimming with confidence. The pressure suddenly mounted when I looked behind to find a head torch starring at the ViewRanger app. Roughly 5 minutes into my leg, the batteries in my head torch died and I brought out my below par search torch. Unassumingly hovering my torch over the compass along with my mobile phone in the pocket next to the compass, I had naively ignored the electromagnetism effect of the torch and phone on my compass had caused me to have gone off course– that’s what I blamed anyway.

    After arriving at the campsite we set the tents up on the only part of the Dartmoor not pickled with too much lumpy frozen sheep poo. Team member Tas offered around her pick n mix. She had the most eclectic selection I have ever seen. This party I was having in my mouth was slowly stopped after one head torch told me it was the same pick n mix they had brought in Woolworths in 1985, just topped up each year.

    We then began to get cold so a head torch instructed Owen to lead us to a location somewhere on Huntingdon Warren. Owen expertly led us to Huntingdon Warren over particularly rough ground.

    From the track leading to Red Lake we began to head south to the Marker Stone. Fully equipped this time with new batteries in the head torch I led the group to the Marker Stone.

    Following a minor dispute about the location of the marker stone, we headed along the path to Huntingdon Cross where we stopped for some food. I drank the remains of my water bottle that was laden with enough caffeine to keep me awake for a month.

    We returned to T Girt at approximately 3:40am and then waited for some people to arrive before retiring at 4:00am.

    Everyone who was involved in the planning and organising of the trip did a fantastic job. An unforgettable experience with the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton team.  I look forward to many more in the future.

    Thursday, 26 April 2012 13:38

    What it means to earn the ‘Team Jacket’

    Alan, one of the 2010 intake of trainees, recently qualified and elected in to the team as full member. Here he writes about what it means and the hard work involved. The article is reproduced below in his own words.

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    In the early to mid 80’s, I was part of the Dartmoor Rescue Group, Okehampton Section until work commitments got in the way. About 2 years ago I decided the time was right to rejoin so I applied to join the Ashburton Section of the Dartmoor Search & Rescue Team.

    Times have changed somewhat as in the 80’s the training was very informal, whilst now trainees are given a logbook consisting of sections that cover all aspects of skills required including First Aid, micro navigation, swift water skills, ropework and radio competancy. Before you can be nominated to become a Full member, a completed logbook will require over 60 signatures signing off the various skills required.

    But before you get to that stage, you need to get through the selection day.

    Having sent my application to the team in early 2010, I was invited to join a selection day at the team’s base along with 13 other hopefuls in October of that year. The day consisted of a written test along with demonstrations and tours of the team vehicles and some of the equipment. Finally the prospective trainees were taken out on the moor in pairs to see what their navigation skills were like before heading back to the pub for a spot of socialising with the others and some of the full members.

    I think its fair to say I under estimated the level of micro navigation involved. I was very rusty having done little detailed navigation in wild country for some years, and hence I, along with 2 others, was called back for a second chance to prove we were up to the task. By this time I had pulled my socks up and got myself out on the moor to practice and I was pleased to get the call to join the other 4 already successful applicants and become that year’s intake of trainees.

    The team trains every Wednesday night throughout the year. A rendezvous (RV) is given for that night’s exercise and a theme. SaR Ex (Search & rescue Exercise), navigation, first aid, swift water training, rope work, etc, etc. It is up to the individual trainee to be proactive and work on his/her logbook to get the 60+ entires signed off.  The training traditionally has a final test which is the fabled ‘All night Nav’ exercise. Trainees up for assessment, are taken out in pairs by 2 members and are put under pressure and tasked to route plan, navigate,  find targets and reroute themselves typically getting back to camp around 5am in the morning. The idea is to test if they can be relied upon when they are tired and under pressure, which is a situation not uncommon on real callouts. Once they pass this, they are forwarded to the committee for approval to become full members and receive their team jacket.

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    The training has been fantastic. Not only does it get you out and on the moor in all weathers, but you also get the opportunity to do lots of different things including working with RAF Chivenor and their air-sea rescue Seaking helicopters. In addition as the team is a voluntary charitable body that relies wholly on public donation, members get involved with fundraising activities as well. Everything from providing safety cover at organised events such as Ten Tors, various sponsored walks and runs, running presentations and talks to local groups interested in what we do, as well as helping at larger events such as the Dartmoor Classic. All great fun and very worthwhile.

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    Finally, the reason why most people initially join is to assist the public who get into difficulty on our patch. We are called out by the Police, 9 time to date this year,  and our callouts vary from people lost on the moor, as you would expect,  canoists in diffuiculty, and also increasingly these days, looking for despondants, vulnerable adults and children,  or dementia sufferers who have gone missing anywhere across the moor, South and East Devon, including urban areas such as Exeter and Torbay. As a Senior trainee I have already attended callouts and what makes me proud is that a group of people are on call 365x24x7 to go and look for people who they don’t know, in their own time day or night for no payment what so ever. Community spirit is alive and well.

    Last night I was awarded my team jacket having successfully completed my training and have now become a full member. Getting to this stage has been a challenge and I have learnt an awful lot from a lot of great people. The team members by their nature are a very giving bunch and I can’t thank them enough for helping me to get through the training.  To say I am chuffed to bits is an under statement. The training is ongoing however to continue to improve my skills and make sure I fit into the team and that it all gels together and works efficiently on a callout when our services are required.

    I can’t wait!

    Thursday, 20 December 2012 13:30

    The fabled ‘all night nav’!

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    For all trainees, the ‘All night nav’ is a right of passage into the team and typically one of the final elements to be signed off in a their logbook before being nominated to become a full member. This year, Lugs has kindly written about his recent experience giving you an insight into what it takes to be part of a search and rescue team.

    Lugs says …….

    The all night navigation assessment is designed to test at night and over an extended period regardless of weather, a trainees navigation skills when tired and under pressure.

     The ‘all night nav’ assessment normally takes place when the trainee is at the end or near the end of their logbook.  My intake has had the chance of two previous all nighters to prepare us for the real thing. The first one turned into a full scale all night call out 30 minutes after leaving the vehicles,  and the other, in March this year, we were taken for a gentle ‘bimble’ so we had some idea of what it was like to be out and moving across the moor all night, while the then senior trainees were being put through their paces further out on the moor, in amongst the bogs and mires….

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    Finally it was around 8p.m and we are off. The first part of the evening involves getting to our Bivi site, the location of which we are only told the night before. We are in groups of four, two specialist nav team members and two trainees being assessed. The first couple of legs are fairly straightforward and act as a nice settler to get your ‘moor head’ on and making little adjustments to your bag which at this point is not the lightest as you begin to concentrate and warm up. Getting used to the terrain which even at this point isn’t easy going, striding through clumps of knee high purple moor grass and knee deep soft bog,  trying to get into some sort of rhythm, which isn’t easy.   You look at your map while remembering to dim your headtorch, trying to build up a mental picture of the ground…and so away we go, little specks of light in the blackness working our way out across the moor from point to point. Even though each trainee is given an alternate leg, there is no time to rest in between legs as you need to keep track and pace with whoever is leading because at some point you will be asked where you are…

    Sometime just before 12 midnight and having worked our way out via Deep Swincombe  to Ter Hill and back down the valley formed by the fledgling Swincombe, we arrive at the bivi site half way between Fox Tor and Childe’s Tomb. From here the main event starts. We unload, set up tents grab a quick cuppa and some fuel, in my case bananas and a well known chocolate confection, (ok a Mars bar). We now pair up with two different nav team members and off we go, the main event..the all nighter.

    Swapping legs between the two trainees being assessed it is now after midnight. On each leg, bearings, pacing and timing need to be accurate. We navigate to features that are not on the map ( there’s a lot on Dartmoor that’s on the ground and not on the map and vice versa) but we are told what we should be looking for and sometimes it can be just a tiny ‘kink’ in a contour line. Each trainee has to follow the route of the other, at any point the one that isn’t leading will be asked for a position, how far we have been or how far it is to our intended target, and so it goes on…At one point this year we had a good dousing followed up by a nice fog, which, as its pitch black anyway, doesn’t really slow proceedings down that much…just makes the evening even more interesting… I’ll not give too much away, I think if I say we went over Crane Hill, across Plym Head and back south easterly just North of Ducks Pool, on to Blacklane Mire and then back up towards Crane Hill all the time pace counting, checking bearings, checking timings, checking your surroundings, is the ground running up where it should be, is it starting to fall away where I expect it to, and is what’s supposed to be there actually there at all!

    All this is done with map and compass and dead reckoning. The team does of course use GPS devices but you have to be able to navigate to a very high standard with map and compass across any terrain and in any weather and every member of the team can, without exception.

    After making our way back over Crane hill we headed  back to the bivi site, stopping for a well earned brew on the way back arriving around 5.30a.m in time to grab a couple of hours kip before a hike off the hill and a well earned breakfast at The Tradesman’s in Scorriton. Needless to say navigating to such standards and across terrain such as this is hard work but ultimately very rewarding and as a Search and Rescue Team entirely necessary. 

     And there you have it the bare bones of the all night navex…well you didn’t expect me to tell you everything..did you?

    Thanks Lugs, an excellent insight to the standards trainees are expected to reach during their training. What Lugs didn’t say though was he passed. Congratulations and very well deserved.

    Monday, 15 April 2013 13:26

    Life as a search and rescue trainee

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    Life as a search and rescue trainee

    Our blog includes various posts written by our trainees on their experiences in a search and rescue team as well as  different aspects of the training. But up to now, they’ve been all from the guys. So to put that right, newly qualified member Emma (congratulations!) has written about her experience of being part of our team from the initial selection day to earning her ‘team jacket’

    Emma’s account of life as a search and rescue trainee….

    This weekend I went on my first callout. My phone beeped at me with a grid reference and off I went. It is strange to think that 18 months ago I was only vaguely aware of Mountain Rescue and now I find myself part of team on Dartmoor.

    So to rewind, 18 months ago I was sat at my desk writing my doctoral thesis in marine biology and I was distracting myself by looking for other things that I would rather be doing. I came across a call for volunteers for mountain rescue on Dartmoor and thought it looked like an interesting thing to be involved in. I duly sent off my application and the following weekend I found myself  in a room with about 16 other people beginning the assessment process.

    We were a pretty diverse group 14 men and 2 women from all walks of life. Firstly, we were given a talk by Team Leader Rob. He told us that we were all cogs in a machine and each cog was as important as the next, if a cog was too big or too small the machine wouldn’t work properly. That brought home to me how important it was going to be to work as part of that team. Overall, the assessment was an interesting, exciting, and very challenging process.

    The second stage involved a written test with a map to check our general orienteering skills and a chat with a team member about how we would deal with different incidents. Finally, we  headed out onto the moors, just as the rain began, to test our orienteering skills to the full. We navigated into the night before heading to the pub for a well-earned pint! I have to admit I was somewhat surprised and delighted  the next day when Mickey (the training officer) called to invite me to become a Dartmoor Search and Rescue Trainee, I had assumed that they were only looking for 14 stone muscular chaps but apparently an  8 stone girl could still have something to offer…..

    (To give you a more in depth idea of what the selection day entails, a blog has been written on the 2012 event.) 

    The last 18 months have involved comprehensive training, mainly on Wednesday nights, in different rescue areas. This has been hugely diverse from advanced navigation, to river safety, rope work, radio use and casualty care. Every training session has been professionally run and I have always learnt something new. It has pushed me to do things I wouldn’t normally do, like jump in a fast flowing river, or dangle off a tor at night. It has given me confidence in my own skills, but most importantly it has taught me the importance of being part of a close knit team. We were continually assessed and our training is recorded in a log book. All of our training comes together on Search and Rescue nights where we are given a scenario and work as we would on a proper callout.

    The final part of our training is known as the “All Night Nav”. This is where we spend an entire night navigating the moors in the winter. My first attempt was a complete disaster. I stepped out of the car, panicked, forgot everything I had been taught and couldn’t find my way out of the car park. Not a great start. Needless to say the night didn’t improve and unfortunately I failed. However, the massive cooked breakfast cheered me up nicely!

    Our next All Night Nav was scheduled for 10 weeks later. I knew that I had 10 weeks to get my act together and not let myself down quite so spectacularly. With the help of team members, friends and family, I spent as much time as I could wandering the moors and felt considerably more confident when the next one came around. As the night went on and I was hitting all my targets my confidence grew and by the end of the night I really knew I could do it! It was a great sense of achievement to be told the following morning that I had passed!

    The next Wednesday night I was given my Jacket and added to the callout list.

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    It is a huge personal achievement to have come this far, however, I am well aware that I couldn’t have done this without the help, support and patience of the team members and other trainees. For this I will always be grateful, and I look forward to being able to help new recruits in the same way in the future. I am excited to be a cog in a very well-oiled mountain rescue machine. Thank-you to everyone for their help and support.

    Monday, 28 October 2013 13:17

    Trainee selection day 2013

    On Saturday October 26th we held our 2013 trainee selection day.

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    We are often contacted by members of the public who wish to become members of our team and once a year we run a day designed to assess the capabilities and the ability to fit in to the team of those who have applied throughout the year. We had 16 members of the public who joined us at our Rescue Centre for the 2013 assessment, out of which we were able to offer up to 6 places for this year’s intake.

    Men and women from all walks of life apply with a wide range of skills.  Our Training Officer kick started the day giving an introduction of what was in store for them before introducing other team members who gave a short overview of their involvement and the commitment it entails. Our Chairman delivered a potted history of the team before the candidates were presented with a short written test paper so that we could get a better understanding of their base capabilities with regard to navigation and first aid.10534148865 dd91997d58 b

    Although the focus of the day is very much around assessing the candidates capabilities, we also provide a tour of our Rescue Centre , equipment and vehicles so that they leave with a much better understanding of the work of a Mountain Rescue team. The biggest area under estimated by many people who apply is the commitment we expect from our trainees and team members. It’s not just the callouts any time of day or night but also the weekly training throughout the year and the involvement with events and fundraising as we rely almost entirely on the generosity of the public to remain operational.  Every member of the team is an ‘equal cog’ and working as part of a team is of utmost importance. So apart from the skills navigation, first aid and technical skills being assessed, we are also looking at how candidates will fit in as team members.

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    Early in the afternoon candidates are given a kit check and a grid reference to make their way to where they will be met and split up into small groups of 2 or 3. Accompanied by senior team members they are tasked to navigate their way to targets features on the open moor. This often opens another area that candidates under estimate as the navigation will include features that are not Tors!  These could be cairns, boundary stones, re-entrants and other features that will test the candidate’s ability to navigate to a more advanced level, returning after dark to the car park and a wind down in a Dartmoor pub.

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    So, if you are thinking of applying to our team we would love to hear from you (see our Contact Us page on our website on how to get an application form). But, before you apply make sure you are well prepared for the next selection day and take onboard the following points.

    • It is a big commitment being part of a Mountain Rescue team and you will be expected to attend not just  callouts, but weekly training meets and fundraising events throughout the year. If you can’t realistically make give this level of commitment, then consider joining
    • We expect a good standard of navigation skills of all our potential trainees on the selection day as we are not able to train individuals to navigate. Instead we will help you once selected as a trainee to develop your skills from a base standard into the advanced skills required for the team. You should therefore be able to pace accurately, read a map and relate it to the ground about you, understand contours, take and walk on a bearing and be able to take a resection.
    • Make sure you bring every item on the kit list that will be sent out with your selection day invitation. This includes, waterproofs, map, compass and a good hand and head torch as you will need them all! It never ceases to amaze us that some candidates don’t bring a map.
    • Before the day make sure you are up to speed with your navigation skills as these will be tested on the hill.

    Our next selection day will be in October 2014 and you can apply anytime between now and then. In between time we are very much looking forward to welcoming 6 new trainees into the team and helping them work through their logbook to become active full team members.


    Trainee Selection 2013

    Saturday, 15 February 2014 13:15

    When the rescued become rescuers

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    Catherine, one of our current trainees, talks about the motivation behind her joining the team.

    My motivation for joining the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team at Ashburton was directly as a result of having been on the receiving end of their professionalism and dedication, when they hauled my daughter out of the Dart gorge up very steep ground, whereas the NHS and Search & Rescue helicopters had both been unable to safely reach her.  She had sustained a knee injury while jumping in the river and was unable to walk.  We sat and waited for about 3 hours while the emergency services decided it was too tricky a location and her injury not worth the risk of winching her out of the gorge, and them calling DSRT.

    When they arrived it was a wonderful sight to see Paul and Mike in their red jackets approaching, and within minutes being warm again (having only come out equipped for a quick swim on the last afternoon of the holidays…) as they provided my daughter with a kit mat to sit on, and spare clothes for both of us – my first taste of wearing a red jacket.  I was very impressed with the efficiency with which the rescue was carried out, as the ‘screamer’ was rigged and put into action.  I was amazed by all these people giving up their beautiful summer evening, pending barbecues and meals, to come out and help.   It was a lot of work getting my daughter safely and comfortably onto the stretcher, and then all the way up the side of the gorge to Dr Blackall’s drive and the waiting landrover.

    During the evening I had the opportunity to quiz team volunteer Taz about training nights etc, and I couldn’t help thinking how much I would enjoy being one of the rescuers.  Anyway I sent off my application form and attended the October assessment day, which was rather nerve wracking as 16 of us were going for 6 places.  It followed the format described in previous blogs.  I was extremely delighted to receive the call from Mickey telling me I was one of the chosen ones.

    My first few training evenings were quite intimidating, being surrounded by all these people in red jackets and head torches who all knew exactly what they were doing.  As the weeks have gone on I have come to appreciate both what a priviliege it is to be part of the team, and how much time team members are willing to give to teach me and my fellow trainees what we need to know.  I had no idea quite how beautifulDartmoor could be at night, and I feel very lucky being out every Wednesday in such an amazing environment.

    While the training nights have frequently put me out of my comfort zone as I do new things, I feel I am learning at a good pace, and look forward, in a years’ time or thereabouts, to wearing a red jacket again, as a team member this time, and getting the chance to help others as we were helped.

    Thanks Catherine for the post and we are glad you are enjoying life on the team.

    Friday, 26 September 2014 13:12

    Would you like to join the team?

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    The opportunity to apply to become a Trainee Candidate within Dartmoor SRT Ashburton for this year has closed. To be considered for the 2015 intake please use the Contact Us page and select ‘I am interested in joining the team’ from the list of options. Approaches after this date will be considered for the 2015 intake.

    Tuesday, 29 December 2015 11:32

    Team volunteers home from devastating floods

    We are very pleased to say that Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton volunteers alongside those from North Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team, Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team – Tavistock, Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team – Plymouth and Exmoor Search & Rescue Team have been stood down, debriefed and are on their way back to Devon tonight.

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    Dave Underhill, an Ashburton team search manager deployed to York said “We have been given such a warm welcome by the people of York and we have been deeply touched by their generosity towards us. We hope that our deployment has been of help to the local community and that we have made a positive difference to them, helping them to get through the awful flooding they have endured. We thank them and wish them well with the task of getting their homes and business’ back to normal over the coming months”.


    Dave went on to say:

    “We’d also like to thank all of you for the hundreds of messages of support that the team has received over the last few days on Facebook and Twitter. We really appreciate it. Our volunteers returned to Devon and their families at 03:30 this morning with kit packed away already for the next callout and wet kit hanging in the drying room.”

    “They  couldn’t do what they do without the support of their families and we would like to thank them for being the rock behind our members. They put up with the disruption to family life and rarely get the public recognition they deserve. A very big thank you to them all.”

    Mountain Rescue teams across the country have been deployed to the floods in Cumbria, Lancashire, Yorkshire over the last week or so. They are all volunteers who use their own equipment and give their time free of charge because they want to help. We are proud to be part of such a wonderful group of men and women.

    Press Articles

    The video is courtesy of BBC Spotlight

    Torbay Herald Express:

    Western Morning News:

    The team were called at 19:04 this evening by Devon and Cornwall Police to search for a lost walker in the Pupers Hill area of South Dartmoor.

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    A rapid response from our volunteers meant we had teams out on the moor by 19:40 and the casualty was found safe and well by our volunteers at 20:10.

    The individual had left his car at Ludgate for a walk on the moor at 4pm this afternoon. Unfortunately he had no map or compass and as visibility and daylight soon deteriorated, he soon became lost and disorientated. He also had no whistle or torch, essential safety equipment when walking on the moor, so could not signal his location to rescuers.

    As weather conditions was good with light winds, our members homed in on the area he was suspected to be in, found him and escorted him off the moor and to his car.

    Our duty team Search manager said “Fortunately the gent had a mobile phone which meant we could talk with him and get a good idea of his location before sending out foot teams to escort him off the moor. We recommend that walkers always take a map and compass, and know how to use them,  along with essential safety equipment such as a whistle and torch on Dartmoor walks. They don’t weigh much but can make all the difference if you are delayed and find yourself out on the open moor after dark enabling you to find your way or to signal rescuers”.

    Safe to say he is a lot wiser now and has learnt a valuable lesson in being properly equipped. We wish him well.

    Press Articles

    Grough Online:

    Herald Express:

    Tuesday, 26 January 2016 11:26

    Weather catches out Two Moors Way Walkers

    On Tuesday afternoon our duty search manager was contacted by the police who had concerns for two walkers who had dialled 999 after getting disorientated and cold in horrendous weather on the south moor.

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    The pair of walkers had set off from Ivybridge in the morning heading towards their accommodation in Scorriton, as they left the Two Moors Way to join the Abbots Way the weather closed in and they became lost.

    After making contact with the walkers our search manager was able to determine their location and initiated a limited team callout. Shortly after 1430 four team members in two Land Rovers drove the 12km along the Puffing Billy Track to Crossways where the walkers were found sheltering in the old explosives hut.

    Although cold, one individual was wearing shorts,  the walkers were safe and well, hot tea was administered and they were escorted off the moor. The team was stood down shortly after 1700. This incident highlights the importance of dressing appropriately and being adequately equipped for the weather conditions.

    Thanks to team member Dave for the photo and video which show how wet and windy it was.

    Press Articles


    Western Morning News:

    Torquay Herald Express:

    Registration for the 2016 Templer Way Challenge is now OPEN. Register at

    A BOVEY TRACEY firm has delighted members of Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team Ashburton by becoming headline sponsors for the charity’s 2016 Templer Way Challenge.

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    The deal could result in as much as £5,000 from Plastic Surgeon Fine Finishers with management pledging to match funds raised by staff who undertake the 18-mile sponsored walk on sunday April 24.

    That amount could make serious inroads into the £20,000 it takes to keep the lifesaving volunteers able to respond to the 35 or so shouts they receive each year.

    Last Christmas their expertise was even called for in Yorkshire when floods devastated a number of communities.

    ‘Plastic Surgeon have given the 2016 Templer Way Challenge a real kick start and we’re extremely grateful for their support,’ said team fundraising officer Alan Pewsey.

    ‘Now we’re looking forward to the event, our sixth, with great anticipation and hoping to attract plenty of walkers who will have a great day with us.

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    ‘Everyone will set off from Haytor Quarry and make their way to Shaldon, and the best bit is it’s all down hill!’

    ‘We usually have about 100 people take part and we’re hopeful we can do that again this year. Registering for the event is via our website at We’d also like to hear from other businesses if they’d like to follow Plastic Surgeon’s lead and become corporate sponsors, we really do appreciate the help.’

    Plastic Surgeon is based in Bovey Tracey but has seven regional centres across the country and employs almost 200 staff.

    It specialises in surface repairs to materials such as metal, plastic and render. Customers include major housebuilders, insurance firms and private householders.

    Managing Director Rob Mouser said: ‘There are two reasons we’ve chosen to support Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton, one is that they’re local and relevant to people here and the other is that we always do things which encourage teamwork among our staff.

    ‘I’m not sure yet how many colleagues will be taking part but we’re aiming for 20. I’ve done the walk before as have some others but this will be the first time as a company that we’ve sponsored it.

    ‘It promises to be a great day.’

    Press release courtesy of:

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    Thursday, 16 June 2016 11:23

    Extraction of unconscious teenager

    Early this morning the team were called out to New Waste near Cornwood to assist our colleagues at DSRT Plymouth to search for a Duke of Edinburgh award team. The D of E team had called the ambulance service and reported that one of their members was unconscious.

    The team were located by helicopter and all members were air-lifted off the moor and our volunteers were stood down.

    Press articles

    Plymouth Herald:

    A full team callout was issued at 18:10 on Friday 8th July to assist the SW Ambulance Service with the recovery of a walker who had slipped and fallen 20m on to rocks in the Upper Dart Valley.

    Team members walked from the Newbridge car park with the necessary equipment into the casualty site on river left near Bellpool Island to assist paramedics who were on site.

    The lady had sustained multiple injuries in the fall and was lying on rocks close to the river edge. It was quickly determined that assistance would be required from Rescue 924, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) S92 search and rescue helicopter based at Newquay to relay the lady to hospital.

    The casualty received medical care on site and was transferred onto our vacuum mattress as a precaution against any potential spinal or neck injury. Due to the narrow gorge and tree cover, a safe place needed to be found from which to winch the lady on to the helicopter. We train frequently in the area and had previously identified likely areas for winch evacuation. Members of our rope team rigged rope systems to help transport the casualty safely up the valley side on our stretcher to above the treeline from where the helicopter returned to winch the casualty onboard and onwards to Derriford Hospital.

    Team members packed up our equipment, walked back to Newbridge car park and returned to our Rescue Centre around midnight.

    Our duty search manager said “The Dart Valley is always a challenging area to rescue people from, and this was quite a difficult one and took several hours. We wish the lady a speedy recovery.”

    Press reports

    Torbay Herald Express:

    Grough Online:

    Ramblings of a Mountain Rescue Team.

    Hill Party Leader Steve Jones and Fundraising Officer Al Pewsey talk to BBC Radio Devon’s Shep on the past 40 years and what’s ahead for the next 40 years.

    Click on the green play button to play the clip (duration 10:31).

    You can also open the clip in the Vocaroo application allowing you to scroll through the clip rather than having to listen to it all. Just click on ‘Vocaroo’

    If the embedded application doesn’t appear then you can hear the interview via the following link CLICK HERE

    Order your copy of our 40th anniversary book.

    Our new book ‘Ramblings of a Rescue Team’ is a collection of accounts of real rescues from our 40 year history.

    Not only is it THE stocking filler to have this Christmas, each book purchased raises funds for the rescue team.

    Order yours by clicking on the image below:15193550 10154219105397545 3854899567981452636 n 300x300

    We have a number of video and audio clips that tell you more about the vital service the team provides to the emergency services in Devon. The interviews and reports includes footage of incidents we’ve been involved with not just in Devon but to major incidents across the country

    Saturday, 06 August 2016 11:04

    Missing 16 year old enters the River Dart

    The team were called around 22:00 on Friday 5th August to assist Devon & Cornwall Police in looking for a 16 year old male reportedly entering the River Dart having shed all his clothing.

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    Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton volunteers were tasked to search the Staverton branch-line and various land based areas, whilst the MCA & RNLI focused on the water environments.  Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service decided to wait for daylight to put boats in the water following their risk assessment, departing around 1am following searches earlier that evening.  MCA personnel continued riverbank searches alongside the Police Dive Team until around 2am. DSRT Ashburton members were stood down around 05:00 having exhausted regions of woodland and field systems identified as high-probability areas.

    totnes callout

    Our team duty Search Manager said: “DSRT Ashburton covered a lot of ground overnight during the 6hr deployment, that focused on high-probability areas around the ‘point last seen’ for the teenager. Missing person behavioural analysis was less predictive in this instance, due to the reported use of new psychoactive substances (NPS); however, the areas targeted included minor roads, tracks and trails, dense woodland, steep ground, river-bank and flood-plain areas, and parts of the Totnes to Buckfastleigh branch-line.    The team remains on alert to assist if required.”

    Our colleagues at DSRT Plymouth took over the Dartmoor Rescue response on Saturday morning to give our volunteers a rest, following by DSRT Tavistock in the afternoon / evening..

    On Sunday morning the 8th August, Polcie divers discovered a body. The next of kin have been informed in advance of an official identification

    Our thoughts, prayers and condolences are with the family at this very difficult and sad time.

    Mountain Rescue Teams, #morethanjustmountains

    Press reports:

    Grough Online:

    BBC Devon:

    Torbay Herald Express:

    Thursday, 09 March 2017 10:19

    River Search – Newton St Cyres

    The team have spent the day searching the area around the river Creedy near to Newton St Cyres. We were continuing a search that DSRT Okehampton had started on Wednesday evening and had carried out until 0130.

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    Devon and Cornwall Police are concerned for the welfare of a missing elderly gentleman.

    Our water specialists joined officers from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue to search the river whilst other team members provided bankside support.

    A report on the search by the Crediton Courier

    UPDATE: Devon and Cornwall Police released the following statement on their website on the 29th March 2017.

    ‘Police have located the body of a man during the search for Peter Giles from Newton St Cyres. Officers were concerned for the welfare of Mr Giles, 70, who was reported missing on 8 March. His Land Rover Discovery was found in an area known locally as ‘Newton Rec’ in Newton St Cyres and police carried out detailed searches of the area. The body of a man was located in the River Creedy in Newton St Cyres on 24 March. Formal identification has not yet been carried out but the family of Mr Giles has been informed. The death is not being treated as suspicious and a file will be prepared for the coroner.’

    Our thoughts and condolences are with the family of Mr Giles at this very sad time.

    Tuesday, 07 February 2017 10:18

    Team Member Interview – Dave Close

    In this series of team member interviews, we find out more about what makes our volunteers tick. For our first interview we talk to Dave Close, otherwise known as El Presidenti.


    What is your role within the team and what does it involve?

    I’m presently the Team Secretary, tasked with ensuring a smooth flow of information both to the

    members within and responding to enquiries from outside. This can take many forms; including the

    taking of minutes at Committee/Team meetings, circulation of information across the membership,

    liaising with organisations and members of the public approaching the team etc.

    When did you join DSRTA and why?

    I joined DSRT Ashburton in 2007. Having moved to the area in 2004 (from London), I was looking to

    give something back to the walking community. Mindful that although not personally needing

    mountain rescue during my trips to the Lakes/Nth Wales in my youth, friends of mine did get lost on

    Dartmoor and were most likely assisted by the DRG back in the 1980’s.

    Tell us about your day job?

    Rachel (my wife) and I run a hostel for the homeless in Torquay. We manage two properties that

    provide emergency temporary accommodation for those made homeless, which can happen for a

    variety of reasons, not always within their control. We only accept referrals from the local council,

    and can accommodate families, couples, single men & women from aged 16 upwards. Residents

    stay for a short period of time so as to get back on their feet and progress independent living

    arrangements. Duration of stay depends largely on their personal circumstances, and can range

    from a few days to several months.

    Do you have any other hobbies or interests?

    For two years prior to joining the team, and for four years during, I was involved in Scouting in

    Torbay and enjoyed kayaking, sailing and power boating alongside all that you’d traditionally expect

    from the movement; however, since also taking on regional and national roles within Mountain

    Rescue England and Wales, these responsibilities have been handed to others. I am a keen walker

    around the SW, regularly spend time in Scotland in February (much to Rachel’s anguish)

    experiencing winter climbing conditions, have a dog (Maddie) and two young grandsons, so I’m kept

    pretty busy and (mostly) out of trouble.

    Choose 5 words which best describe your experiences with DSRTA

    Professionalism, support, dedication, teamwork, family.

    Where is your favourite part of Dartmoor and why?

    Difficult to pinpoint one particular area, but if pushed I’d have to say the Dart gorge and

    surroundings; I’m a big fan of water.

    Jam or Cream first?

    Growing up in London, cream was either for pouring on jelly, or squirted from a can onto a

    knickerbockerglory; however, being partially adopted by Devon (as much as anyone can be not born

    here), cream first.

    The Rolling Stones or The Beetles?

    Rolling Stones and beyond, the heavier the better really.

    Team Nickname

    Dave has reached the lofty heights of Secretary for Mountain Rescue England and Wales. Hence his team nickname ‘El Presidenti’ 

    Tuesday, 11 April 2017 10:17

    Team Member Interview – Craig Scollick

    In this series of team member interviews, we find out more about what makes our volunteers tick. For our second interview we talk to Craig Scollick, a team member for over 10 years.


    What is your role within the team and what does it involve?

    I’m a Hill Party Leader – that means I’m one of a number of our volunteers who has gone through the Hill Party Leader training and is in charge of a team of volunteers during a callout. After we’ve arrived at a callout our search managers will be briefed by the Police and friends or family of the person(s) we are looking for. Based on the information they receive they will allocate search areas and then divide our volunteers into teams to carry out searches in those areas.
    I’m also a member of the Hasty Team which is a small group within the rescue team who are regular runners and enjoy running on Dartmoor in all conditions. We offer the search managers the opportunity to deploy a small fast moving team of fell runners with light packs to quickly check moorland paths or rapidly go to a casualty if they are at a known location. Typically our hasty team members have also passed their Mountain Rescue Casualty Care qualification and can assess and stabilise an individual before the main team or a helicopter arrives.

    When did you join DSRTA and why?

    My family and I moved to Devon in 2006 and after a lifetime of climbing and hill-walking with friends I thought that joining DSRTA would be a great way of giving back and also meeting like minded people.

    Tell us about your day job?

    I’m the director of a small management consultancy business where we offer project and programme management to our clients. This means that I spend most of my time in an office either talking to people or looking at plans and spreadsheets. Periodically I also get the chance to swap the office for Dartmoor and help teach and assess individuals for national hill-walking qualifications.

    Do you have any other hobbies or interests?

    With a busy job, a wife, 3 school age children and my involvement in DSRTA there isn’t a lot of time for much else. I do however try to stay fit for the times when I do get the chance to go climbing or hill-walking. As my children have been working their way through the sections in the local scout group my wife and I also help out at scout camps and other scout events.

    Choose 5 words which best describe your experiences with DSRTA

    Rewarding, challenging, exciting, inclusive & addictive.
    Where is your favourite part of Dartmoor and why?
    Now that’s a hard question…I really like the more remote parts of the moor, or at least the parts that feel that way. I’d say the area around the middle of the south moor from Ryder’s Hill in the north to Three Barrows in the south and bounded on the west by Erme plains and the east by Grippers Hill. I love the quiet in this area and I’m always surprised and intrigued by both the ancient and the industrial archaeology.

    Jam or Cream first?

    Has to be cream – is there another way?

    The Rolling Stones or The Beetles?

    Having seen them at a gig in Manchester it has to be the stones.

    Team Nickname?

    Affectionately known as ‘Futbrudge’ pronounced in an outrageously bad Scottish accent.

    Many thanks Craig.

    174 walk in heavy rain to raise over £7,500 for vital service

    An 18-mile sponsored walk has seen over £7,000 raised for the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team based at Ashburton, as 174 people walked from the Haytor Quarry in Dartmoor National Park to Shaldon on the Devon coast.

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    The Challenge, now in its 7th year, raises funds for the Ashburton based rescuers. The charity, which relies on fundraising to keep its team of volunteers fully equipped and prepared to deal with the many incidents it’s asked to attend by the full-time emergency services each year.

    Alan Pewsey of Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton said: “This event is very important to the team remaining operational as it is our largest fundraiser of the year, raising around a third of our annual running costs. In 2016 we were called 37 times to help those in need. The people we help are not just walkers and climbers on the moor, but the lost, missing, injured and vulnerable, such as those with dementia and mental health problems,  in rural and urban areas across the county and sometimes further afield. We rely on public donation for over 90% of our funding, so everybody who has taken part or supported this year’s event has effectively helped to save lives.”

    He continued: ‘The event has become more and more popular with numbers increasing each year to walk the historic trail. We see lots of familiar faces returning as well as plenty of new faces too. Word seems to get around as to what an enjoyable walk it is and with the added attraction of having the support of team members walking the route and providing safety cover, it gives members of the public a great opportunity to not just enjoy a fabulous walk, but find out more about the life saving work we do by talking to team members along the way’.

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    There was extra excitement this year as Colin, the Rescue Otter made a special appearance. Colin, painted by talented local wildlife artist Ayse Rifat, is one of 100 otters that will be seen across Dartmoor from June this summer as part of the Moor Otter public art initiative which aims to raise money for the national park. Rescue team member Andrew Luscombe said ‘Ayse approached the team with her idea of a Rescue Otter and we were delighted her idea was accepted. We think he looks fabulous and we are very grateful to the project for allowing us to give the public a sneak preview at our Templer Way event. We are looking forward to seeing Colin and all the otters across Dartmoor this summer, as they will be raising valuable funds to enable the park to continue conserving the landscape for current and future generations to enjoy.’

    Alan concluded: “We’d like to extend a very big thank you to all who have supported our Templer Way Challenge again this year. Early feedback we have had from participants and team members alike is that they thoroughly enjoyed the day, despite the heavy rain, and we will definitely be looking to run the event again in April 2018.”


    Moor Otter Public Art Project:

    Ayse Rifat – Wildlife Artist:

    Recent team callouts ……

    It is a little known fact that volunteer Mountain rescue Teams such as Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton, don’t just cover areas of mountains or wild country. We are a resource available to the Police, ambulance and fire services 24/7 and can assist in rural and urban searches as well as flood rescue.

    You can read more about how Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton helps to rescue those in need, regardless of whether they are residents or visitors to Devon below:

    Ten Tors Support – every year for 40 years!

    On the Saturday afternoon during the Ten Tors event this year, history was made for one of the Dartmoor Rescue teams and in particular one of its stalwart volunteer members. Each year at Okehampton camp the military organisers recognise those organisations and volunteers who have supported the event for 10, 20 and 30 years. This year, as part of this quiet and understated presentation, Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team (Ashburton) and in particular one of their volunteers, Alec Collyer from Shaldon, were recognised for 40 years of continuous support to the Ten Tors event.

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    Ten Tors, for those who don’t know, is an annual event on Dartmoor which is organised and check-pointed  by the military where 2,400 teenage children aged between 15 and 18 walk 35, 45 or 55 miles over two days and have a wild overnight camp in the middle. It’s a real challenge for the young people as they are unsupported by adults with the best teams training for the 5 months leading up to the event. The role of the four Dartmoor rescue teams is to provide rescue cover should this be required during the event.

    In the 57 year history of the event very few organisations and even fewer individuals have been recognised for 40 years of support and the current volunteers of Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team (Ashburton) are rightly proud of their heritage. The volunteers continue to look forward to their annual support of the event alongside their sister Dartmoor rescue teams and other voluntary organisations. At a recent Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team (Ashburton) Annual General Meeting, the team formally recognised Alec Collyer for this continued support to the team and to the Ten Tors event.

    Keith Lambeth the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team (Ashburton) Team Leader said ‘One of the great privileges of being part of this team is the people you get to meet. Alec’s service to the team in general and ten tors in particular is an inspiration to us all’

    Platinum award for DSRTA 10 tors

    Alec Collyer of Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team (Ashburton) said ‘Over the years we’ve seen all possible weathers thrown at us and the participants. From snow to rain lashed gales to baking sunshine. Teams are so much better equipped and trained nowadays, in the “old days” Ten Tors was often the first time some teams had ever seen Dartmoor, those teams had a bit of a shock. I intend to collect a 50 year supporter’s medal’

    Thursday, 11 May 2017 10:11

    Rescuers visit to Shaldon Scouts

    Recently Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team (Ashburton) visited River Teign Sea Scouts(1st Shaldon) at their headquarters near the Ness in Shaldon. During the visit the Scouts were invited to join in with a number of activities. The activities included map and compass work, bandaging and splinting, moving casualties on a stretcher, searching in the dark and using radios.

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    Craig Scollick from DSRT (Ashburton) said ‘ It was great to visit Shaldon Scouts and see their enthusiasm for things we do, I dare say we’ll get a few volunteers from the Scout Group in the future’.

    Andy Dorey Group Scout Leader said ‘ The Scouts had a great time learning new skills when Dartmoor Search & Rescue recently visited our Shaldon HQ; it was really good of them to come along for the evening and let the scouts get hands on with some specialist equipment. On behalf of all the Scouts a big thank you for a fantastic evening’

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    Recent team callouts ……

    It is a little known fact that volunteer Mountain rescue Teams such as Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton, don’t just cover areas of mountains or wild country. We are a resource available to the Police, ambulance and fire services 24/7 and can assist in rural and urban searches as well as flood rescue.

    You can read more about how Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton helps to rescue those in need, regardless of whether they are residents or visitors to Devon below:

    This coming weekend is the 2017 version of the Dartmoor Classic Cycle Sportive, probably one of the premier cycle sportives in the UK. Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton has been a charity partner of the Classic for over 6 years and this year we will once again be raffling fabulous prizes in the event draw.

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    Since 2012 over £12,000 has been donated to the team thanks to the generosity of the organisers and participants of the Dartmoor Classic. This amazing support has undoubtedly enabled us to save lives of those in need on Dartmoor and across South and East Devon. Read more about the prizes below.

    TOP Prize – A custom built Aske bike worth over £2,000

    Simon Aske is going to custom build a bike for the lucky winner, giving them a unique steel frame bike designed around them. Aske Bikes produce hand-made steel frames with a custom geometry for every customer. The main objective of Aske Bikes is to give the customer a personal frame using personal desired steel as well as a choice in paint work.

    aske bike 

    The bike components for the Dartmoor Classic top prize are being donated by Madison UK. We think, you’ll agree that this is an awesome prize for any cyclist.

    We are extremely grateful to MDCC, the Dartmoor Classic organisers Madison UK and Simon Aske for donating such a fabulous top prize and the ongoing support to the team.

    2nd Prize – Luxurious Bovey Castle golf and lunch package worth £400

    Enjoy a round of golf on Bovey Castle’s Championship 18 hole golf course and two courses in Smith’s Brasserie for four people.

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    The lovely people at Bovey Castle have kindly supported the team with Dartmoor Classic prizes for many years and we are extremely grateful for them for the support again this year.

    3rd Prize – Paramo Ciclo Light Jacket worth £160

    The Ciclo is ideal for very active outdoors people who cycle in all weathers and would like a jacket suitable for other activities too. 


    The Ciclo Light is ideal for active outdoors people who cycle in all weathers and would like a jacket suitable for other activities too.

    If you enjoy cycling and high energy activities in all weathers, you need a versatile jacket for wind and rain protection, which also removes perspiration and condensation and allows you to keep cool when working hard.

    The cycling-friendly design is combined with Nikwax Analogy Light fabric for optimum comfort. It provides waterproof protection plus moisture and temperature control in one weight-efficient garment.

    Paramo has been an active supporter of our team for many years and we would like to extend our thanks to them for the amazing ongoing support.

    4th Prize – Enjoy a day at the beautiful Powderham Castle with a Family ticket (2 adults and 2 children).

    Powderham Castle is set in a beautiful deer park on the stunning Exe Estuary and is the home of the Earl and Countess of Devon and the family ticket will give you access to the house and gardens.

    5th Prize – ‘Gold Trek and Taste’ at Sharpham Wine and Cheese.

    Enjoy a self-directed tour of the vineyard together with an informal tasting of our wine and cheese. The vineyard is set in a stunning location on the bank of the River Dart producing world class wine and cheese.

    Thanks to all the above organisations and business’ for their wonderful support to our fundraising efforts this year. Without this support the team would cease to exist and our ability to help those in need and essentially save lives, would be seriously impeded.

    You can buy your tickets, just £1 a go, from our team members who will be at the Registration Village at Newton Abbot racecourse on Saturday afternoon 1st July from 12:30 and Sunday 2nd July between 11:00 – 16:00. They will also be available from our team stand that will be next to Colin Lewis Cycles in the village. The draw will be made over the PA around 16:00 on the Sunday afternoon. All lucky winners will be contacted very soon afterwards with their prizes.

    Good luck to all participants, it’s going to be another fabulous event.

    © 2018 DSRT Ashburton. All Rights Reserved. Charity Number: 1106098.