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Mountain rescue veteran passing baton to protege; Outdoors: Retired schoolteacher has attended more than 1,600 call-outs.

Byline: JOHN ROSS

A rescue team leader who has been called to around 1,600 missions over more than 40 years is standing down.

Willie Anderson joined the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team in 1978 and has been leader or deputy leader for the last 15 years.

The retired schoolteacher has handed over as leader to his former pupil Iain Cornfoot but will remain as a regular member of the team.

The change was made on a Zoom meeting during lockdown.

Mr Anderson said: "I'm 64 next month and just feel it's time for someone younger to step up. I'm going to stay on to help the transition and will remain as a team member. I've still a few years left in me.

"It's a big change for me and the team. It's not the best time to go and ideally I wouldn't have like to do it over a Zoom call, but that's the way things are just now."

Mr Anderson's first callout with the team involved a fatality: "It was a real eye-opener. I remember thinking 'I'm now part of an organisation that has to deal with this, but just have to get on with it'."

His most recent mission was assisting a man who had suffered a cardiac arrest in the hills just before lockdown.

"I've been in involved in a whole spectrum of incidents. The ones that are most disappointing are those that have resulted in kids dying.

"Any event like that involving young people who haven't lived their lives leaves a mark on you.

"But when there is a successful rescue people are so grateful. You are saving the lives of these people who are going to die if you don't get them. There is a lot of satisfaction in that."

He said he is delighted to hand over to Mr Cornfoot, who was a pupil at Kingussie High School when Mr Anderson was a teacher. He was also introduced by Mr Anderson to the Cairngorm Wee Team to bring younger people into mountain rescue.

Mr Cornfoot, who joined the main team in 1995, said: "I'm looking forward to it. It was through Willie I got into the team and it's been somewhat of a gradual process to becoming leader."

CAPTION(S):

Willie Anderson, who is 64 next month

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Author:JOHN ROSS
Publication:The Press and Journal (Aberdeen,Scotland)
Date:Jun 29, 2020
Words:383
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