The Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association column with David Dennis
Keep going is our mantra on our rescue call-outs, but behind the scenes we also have to ensure our very own survival by somehow bringing in the income each year to match the ever increasing demands on our voluntary service.
Treasurer Julian Griffiths from Summerbridge explains how it all works.
Costs vary year-on-year depending on operational needs and what we can afford to spend. In broad terms though we have to find around £50,000 per year, which includes an allowance of about £12,000 for the replacement of vehicles.
We have three vehicles each costing around £40,000 and being replaced about every 10 years.
Some of the big ticket expenditure over the last few years has been the purchase of new mountain jackets and helmets (£20,000) for the surface team, a new underground communications system (£7,000) and dry suits and a rescue dinghy (£7,000) for our swift water rescue team, who have assisted at flooding incidents such as York and Carlisle over the last few years.
We have been fortunate to attract charitable and government grants to support some of this expenditure, but every piece of equipment we acquire will need replacement at some stage so maintenance of our existing capabilities is a continuing demand on our funds.
We also have an ongoing commitment to training, some of which (such as off road and blue light driving training) has to be sourced externally at considerable cost.
We have benefitted from a government concession, introduced in April 2015, that allows us to reclaim the VAT we incur on operational expenses.
This has been a tremendous help in the construction of the headquarters extension completed last year.
It will help when we come to replace the team’s vehicles – 20% of £40,000 is a significant amount.
Looking forward, the next major expenditure item will be the replacement of our existing analog radios by digital ones. This programme will roll out over two to three years and could cost between £20,000 to £30,000.
The backbone of our funding is the generous donations by the general public.
As with any charity this can and will vary from year to year, but we raise upwards of £35,000 from this source each year of which £7,000 comes from collection boxes. Gift Aid adds about £2,000 to £3,000 to this total.
We also have an active ‘Friends of UWFRA’ group.
The team’s main fund raising event each year is now the Wharfedale Three Peaks challenge walk contributing around £7,000 and replacing the Broughton Hall Game Show which had brought in a third of our income for some 32 years.
We take part in the Grassington Dickensian Festival selling food and refreshments to the tune of £5,000 annually.
We try to seek charitable grants to finance very specific projects – an example being two successful grants to allow us to re-equip our surface team with mountain jackets and helmets and also recently we received a government grant along with other water lifesaving organisations to expand our water rescue capabilities.