AFTER a busy 12 months, a rescue team, which needs to raise £28,000 a year through donations, is gearing up for more call outs to help the stranded and lost in County Durham.

The Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team were called out to 45 incidents last year, a 25 per cent increase on 2012.

And the team are preparing for another busy 12 months which could see them called to a variety of emergencies, from searching for people missing from home to rescuing motorists stranded in extreme weather spots.

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The team currently has 40 members from all walks of life, from teachers and plumbers to emergency service personnel and retirees.

They need to raise around £28,000 a year to upgrade essential equipment and pay for insurance and fuel.

Deputy team leader Steve Owers said the vast majority of their funding comes from public donations, with Christmas collections in Darlington and Durham raising £900 and £1,700 respectively.

He said: “Like all mountain rescue teams we rely heavily on donations from the public for our running costs.

“We would like to thank the people of County Durham for their generous support."

Their most unusual call out last year was in January to search for a kite skier who went missing in upper Teesdale.

Mr Owers said the man had become separated from his party by heavy mist.

He said: “Because of the large distances that can be covered when kite skiing we had a large search area in particularity challenging conditions.

“Fortunately the skier came across a remote farm near Alston and was able to telephone his friends to say he was safe."

The team also helped in the search for missing Durham University student Sope Peters.

A further 15 of last year’s callouts were to assist the police in searching for vulnerable adults and children across the county.

They also helped district nurses get to outlying patients in the heavy snow and rescued motorists trapped in their cars.

Mr Owers said "Most people think we only attend incidents on the fells looking for lost walkers but this is far from the truth.”

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