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Ulbster mountain rescue dog handler receives 'well deserved' recognition

By Caroline McMorran

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A Caithness member of Assynt Mountain Rescue Team has been presented with a Scottish Mountain Rescue Distinguished Service Award.

Training officer Charlie Macleod, who lives in Ulbster, received the award at a team training session last weekend.

Team leader Tim Hamlet (left) said Mr Macleod's award was well deserved.
Team leader Tim Hamlet (left) said Mr Macleod's award was well deserved.

Team leader Tim Hamlet said it was “well deserved”.

The award recognises team members who have made a highly significant contribution to mountain rescue in Scotland at team or national level over many years.

Mr Macleod has been with the Assynt team for more than 14 years, serving as deputy team leader for a spell and as training officer since 2013. He is also a National Search and Rescue Dog Association (SARDA) dog handler.

The award was presented at a team training session last weekend.
The award was presented at a team training session last weekend.

He said: “I have been a climber, walker and skier pretty much all my life and have climbed extensively all over the world including the Alps, Alaska, Canada and the Indian Himalayas.

“I have also kayaked over 1100 miles from Vancouver to Juno in Alaska and cycled across the USA as part of a year-long cycle trip."

A former physiotherapist who specialised in cardiac skills, Mr Macleod gained his advanced first aid qualifications with the rescue team.

“I have played my part over the years in helping pass technical and medical skills on to new recruits and team members and, along with others, to shape the team into what it is today,” he said.

He has trained two search dogs with SARDA and helped with the training of many others.

“As a dog handler I can get called out anywhere in Scotland and have been involved in many call-outs all over the country. Some of these have lasted extended periods of eight to nine days in both summer and winter,” he said.

“My first dog Molly retired about two years ago and l have now trained Freya as a replacement. I have a special interest in avalanche rescue and worked with rescue dogs throughout the country including helping train dogs from the Lake District and England and Norway."

Mr Macleod continued: “Mountain rescue has dominated my life for the last 14 years, both in helping to deliver skills to others and learn and develop my own skills with Scottish Mountain Rescue.

“Attending call-outs and helping folk in trouble or assisting in returning casualties to their families in sometimes tragic circumstances is what drives everyone in the mountain rescue community.

“Playing even a small part in achieving that as part of Scottish Mountain Rescue has been a privilege.”

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