This account covers the calendar year 1981 and so starts by
repeating the note on the lengthy rescue in Agen Allwedd,
The fourteen cave rescue call-outs during 1981 were as follows:-
St. Cuthbert's Minery
Box Stone Mines, Wiltshire
Fall, badly bruised
Lost, lights f.
Presumed missing person
Fall, broken leg
Lost, lights f.
Fall, broken ankle
The details of each rescue given below are based upon the field reports prepared by Wardens during incidents.
Weekend l7-l9th January Agen Allwedd
Three dozen Mendip rescuers went to help cavers in
Saturday 14th February Longwood Swallet
MRO was alerted to standby when an Oxford Polytechnic caver
in a Wessex Cave Club party fell from an aven in the Upstream Galleries of the
August Series. It appears that unsound
rock gave way when she was climbing. In
falling about 6 metres she was lucky not to be badly hurt and then plucky to
get out with assistance from the
Sunday 15th February Swildon's Hole
A call was received concerning a party overdue. It was not necessary for a rescue party to go underground. No further details are available.
Friday 5th March Swildon's Hole
A call was received from Yeovil Police about midnight. They had been contacted by a Mr. Pearse from the New Inn, Priddy, concerning a party of Venture Scouts who should have been out of the cave much earlier. Brian Prewer telephoned the informant at Priddy and, during his conversation, the scouts appeared having under-estimated the time that their trip would take.
Saturday 13th March Reads Cavern
Alan Dougherty from Wrington and Alan Hutchinson from Southville Bristol, went down the cave early in the evening expecting to return home by 8.30 p.m. Both were experienced cavers. They left their car off the track approaching the cave. When they had not returned by 9.45 p.m., Mrs. Dougherty informed the Police at Weston-s-Mare, but their patrol was unable to locate the car in Burrington Combe. A neighbour drove her to the area and she found her husband's Mini Clubman near the U.B.S.S. Hut. She contacted the Police again at 11.15 p.m. to alert MHO.
Brian Prewer received the call from Yeovil Police at 11.20 p.m. and raised search parties from the Belfry and Upper Pitts by radio. Bob Hill and Mike Duck took a quick look around the cave whilst Ken Daws and Chris Batstone checked out Rod's Pot and Drunkard' s Hole nearby. These initial searches proved negative and so specific routes were followed. Tim Large led a group to Z- Alley whilst Alison and Pete Moody covered the Browne-Stewart Series. Radio links were set up on the surface.
The missing pair were found at the lower end of Z-Alley and brought safely to the surface at 2.25am on the Sunday. It appears that they had lost the way when lights gave trouble and then failed. They huddled together in a polythene bag to keep warm and this appeared to be effective in the circumstances. All search parties returned by 3.00am.
Saturday 6th June St. Cuthbert's Minery
Wells Police called Brian Prewer at 3.30pm concerning a report of an abandoned tent and sleeping bag on Mr. M. Cotter's property bordering the minery. Mr. W. Foxwell suggested that it had been there for about a week and so the Police were concerned that the missing occupant may have gone caving and failed to return.
Tim Large was contacted at the Belfry. He inspected the site for signs of caving equipment and made further enquiries from local residents and cavers. This investigation indicated that the camping gear was unlikely to belong to a caver and no one had been reported overdue from a caving trip. The Police were advised of this at 4.30 pm and no further action was taken.
Saturday 11th July Swildon's Hole
Phillip Casemore, aged 37, from Crawley,
Dave Irwin received the alarm through the Police at 2.15pm
and alerted Stewart McManus, Chris Batstone and Alan Thomas to organise
rescuers at the Hunters' Lodge. Since
the informant was unsure exactly where the incident had occurred in the Upper
Series, Alan and Trevor Hughes searched the
The patient reached the surface at 4.35 p.m. and was met by the ambulance that had been guided across the fields by Jim Hanwell and Oliver Wells. He was taken to Bristol Royal Infirmary for treatment.
Tuesday 28th July Box Stone Mines, Wiltshire
Brian Prewer received a call from Yeovil Police at 6.21pm. They had a request from Devizes Police for assistance in finding three boys missing down the mines. Apparently, the mother of a 13 year old had reported that her son had gone with two friends, aged 13 and 11, to find the Cathedral via the Back Door. They had failed to return and only had one torch.
Bob Scammell and Chris Batstone were alerted to organise search Parties. Several members of the Oolite Mines Exploration Group took part, their knowledge of the area being invaluable. A radio link between the Quarryman's Arms and the Belfry was established and Alan Butcher and Dave Irwin were asked to standby.
At 7.30 p.m. it was reported that a search to the Cathedral had been negative and so two parties had set out to cover the B12 and Jack Workings respectively. The missing boys were eventually discovered by Bob Scammells Party at the Four Ways Junction. They were lost and their torch had all but faded. By 7.55pm that had been brought to the surface unharmed but, we must hope, rather wiser.
Tuesday 1st September G.B. Cavern
At 2.30 p.m. Brian Prewer was told by Weston-s-Mare Police
that a party of four cavers had been reported overdue from a trip down
G.B. Six members of the 1st Greenford
Apparently, the Devil's Elbow party had traversed across the top of the pitch because they thought the chain was too short and did not indicate the way on. They retreated on being unable to continue and met Day on his way back after raising the alarm. All were safely out of the cave at 5.00pm to explain what had happened to Tim large. He was told that the trip had been arranged by the London Ambulance Service Caving Club.
Sunday 13th September.
Paul Sutton and Graham Sweeper collected the key to the mine from the Belfry at about 4.00pm. As they were camping in the area, they left details of their trip on the Belfry board and estimated that they would be back by 7.30pm. When they had not returned by 10.00pm, Chris Batstone and Bob Hill went to Shipham and found that their car was there and the entrance shaft was still laddered. They alerted the Belfry and search parties with equipment set off at about 10.30pm. Jim Hanwell informed the Police of' the incident and Dr. Don Thomson was asked to stand by.
The missing pair were found on the route to the
Sunday 20th September Swildon' s Hole
Brian Prewer received a call from Yeovil Police at 2.54pm
that a Mr. Wick at
Saturday 14th November Goatchurch Cavern
Richard Wright, a Scout aged 33 from
Dave Irwin was alerted of the call-out by Brenda Prewer at
about 3.15pm. He immediately contacted
Chris Batstone at the Belfry and a party led by Tony Jarrett left with medical
and hauling equipment. A radio relay was
set up from the cave entrance to the Belfry. The patient was strapped up by Bob Hill and carried out to the awaiting
ambulance in about 45 minutes. He was
In a letter of thanks, Richard Wright compliments those who helped him and and recalls the morals: never treat familiar cave with the familiarity that breeds contempt; always look before you leap, and always obey the rules you teach others.
Saturday 14th November Wookey Hole Cave
Keith Potter, aged 22, from nearby Wedmore and a medical
Martyn Farr, Ray Stead and Keith Potter arranged to dive to
Wookey 24 whilst other divers were training with Doctors Peter Glanvill and
Tony Boycott in the
At the Inquest, Mr. Fenton Rutter, the East Somerset Coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death although exactly what went wrong remains a mystery. In giving this conclusion, the Coroner noted that explorers throughout history had taken risks, and that the world would be a poorer place without them.
Sunday 29th November Swildon's Hole
At about 2.30 a.m. a Police Patrol car arrived at the
Belfry. Someone in
Pete and Alison Moody were aroused to start a search of Swildons for the overdue party. Before this got underway, however, Lewis' party returned safely having spent a lot of time lost in the Upper Series. It must be noted that the correct call-out procedure through Yeovil Police Was not used by those concerned, nor had Lewis left word of the cave being visited. Such time wasting would be serious in other circumstances.
Visitors to caves and mines in Avon,
In the event of an emergency, go to the nearest telephone, dial 999 and ask for the Police. When in contact with the Police, request that the Mendip Rescue Organisation is called and give them EXACT DETAILS OF THE INCIDENT, ITS LOCATION AND THE TELEPHONE NUMBER FROM WHICH THE CALL IS MADE. INFORMANTS MUST THEN STAY AT THAT PHONE UNTIL CONTACTED BY A WARDEN OF MRO FOR FURTHER DETAILS ABOUT WHAT HAS HAPPENED. Whilst a few minutes may seem an age at the time, there must be a short delay before being contacted by a Warden and this is a vital step in initiating a successful call-out. Please resist the understandable desire to leave the phone after alerting the Police because your personal knowledge gives MRO a better opportunity to organise a speedier response with appropriate rescuers and equipment. Time must not be wasted. In almost all cases rescuers will arrive within the hour.
Please note that 999 calls in the region are routed to
Police Division Headquarters at Yeovil (Priddy-Wells-Frome),