We’re calling for people to help push the Chris Lewis support fund over the £1 million summit! Chris was gravely injured while rescuing two campers in the Lake District in breach of lockdown rules. Here’s how you can help.
After Chris Lewis, member of Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team in the Lake District, suffered severe, life-changing injuries during a callout in early February 2021, a fundraiser for Chris has nearly reached £1 million in a heart-warming outpouring of support from the general public. We’re asking for your help to see this fundraiser surpass the £1 million mark! Donate here.
Mike Blakey used to be the team leader for the Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team during 2013 to 2019 and was there during the rescue operation where disaster struck and team member Chris Lewis fell and sustained serious, life-changing injuries.
During the pandemic Mountain Rescue has always tried to be there to help out members of the public in need. Wearing PPE in the snow, wind and rain has been a unique and new experience for them all and they have adapted their skills accordingly to deal with the threat of the Covid-19 virus.
“It’s been a busy year for us all in the Lake District, particularly during the summer when restrictions were relaxed; all the separate Mountain Rescue teams have been working as one, pooling our resources to support each other. During the latest lockdown, we’ve stopped all training and team members have been staying local. I think it’s completely fair to ask the public to remember not to travel to the Lake District until government guidelines allow. ” said Mike.
“Of course, we’ll always go and help a person that needs rescuing, even if they’ve got covid. But perhaps the bigger danger is if a member of the team has it and passes it on to the rest of us. Not only is a whole Mountain Rescue team potentially out of action but we’re also putting all our families at risk too, and that’s what we really want to avoid right now.
“The incident was preventable; the two men who travelled up from separate cities were breaking guidelines and should not have been there. However, this accident could have happened during any rescue operation and every member of the team knows and accepts the risks that come from being in the hills.”
The team had been called out to help a 47-year-old man from Leicester who was camping with another man from Liverpool above Kirkstone pass on the fells near Lake Windermere after the man started experiencing chest pains during the night. Disaster struck while they were making their way to the callout.
“Unfortunately Chris slipped and fell where the consequences were dire and he sustained fractures to his vertebrae and face, and damage to his spinal cord. Fortunately he was wearing a helmet. We dread to think what his injuries might have been without it,” said Mike.
“It was horrible to have to rescue a teammate and a good friend. Everyone was shell-shocked and the team stood down for 24 hours to process what had happened – something which has never happened before in the history of the Patterdale MR Team. We’d like to thank the rest of the Lake District Mountain Rescue for covering the 24-hour period where we were not responding to callouts.”
Many have called out the two campers for breaching lockdown rules. The severity of Chris’s injuries cannot be overstated. However, Chris has reacted in a manner that we can only aspire to.
“The first thing that was on Chris’s mind when he arrived at hospital was to enquire about the other casualty. He’s a really decent person and has no judgement for the guys that were out. He’s now out of intensive care and moved into a high dependency ward. It’s highly likely that Chris will be in a wheelchair and it’s still unknown how much mobility he’ll recover in his hands and legs, but we do know that Chris is an incredibly positive person and he’ll be all over his rehab to recover as much as is humanly possible,” said Mike.
The BMC recognises the great importance of the work that Mountain Rescue and its volunteer teams do for the outdoor community. We’d like to extend our gratitude to them all and show our support for Chris at this difficult time.
Paul Davies, BMC interim CEO, said: “Without Mountain Rescue the outdoor community would greatly suffer. The BMC fully supports the Chris Lewis fundraiser and calls on everyone to come together with a small token of appreciation to help push the total over that £1 million summit.”
Lynn Robinson, president of the BMC, said: “It’s really awful to hear of Chris’s injuries and we wish him all the best during his recovery. But it’s truly amazing to see the outpouring of support for Chris and Mountain Rescue and it just shows what the outdoor community can achieve when it works together.”
At the time of writing, more than 36,000 people have donated to the support fund which now amounts to more than £800,000 pounds. And all that has been raised in only one week.
“Chris is completely blown away by the fundraiser. What’s been amazing to see is the number of individuals that have donated. It’s not the huge donations that have made the difference, it’s the fact that tens of thousands have contributed, and that’s just tremendous. Chris has already said that, if he doesn’t need all the money that’s been raised he’ll give it away, that’s just the kind of person he is,” said Mike.
“There were at least two members of the public that set up funds off their own initiative and we had several questions asking if they were legitimate – and they were – but the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association decided to set up its own page to make sure everyone knew it straight away. We’re really grateful to the people that started the initial funds, it was a really positive note at a time when we weren't thinking about the outpouring of support from the public. We wouldn’t have thought to start fundraisers at all.”
Accidents on callouts are rare due to the experience of the Mountain Rescue teams, but they do happen. So what can members of the public do to help Mountain Rescue?
“Wherever you are, if you see a collecting box for Mountain Rescue just chuck a few quid in. I always say it’s basically insurance for the future!” said Mike.
“It seems like everyone’s a bit fed up with covid restrictions now, but sticking to guidelines and restrictions is still the most important thing people can do to help during the pandemic.”
A huge THANK YOU to everyone who has sent messages of support to the Team and to our injured colleague since the...
Posted by Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team on Thursday, 11 February 2021
We want to say a big thanks to every BMC member who continues to support us through the Coronavirus crisis.
From weekly Facebook Lives and GB Climbing home training videos, to our access team working to re-open the crags and fight for your mountain access, we couldn’t do it without you.
Did you know that we've just launched a new U27 membership offer for just £1 / month? And with full membership from £1.66 / month, it's never been easier to join and support our work: