TRIBUTES have been paid to a founder member of a search and rescue team who fought the illness which eventually claimed his life with the same tenacity he put into his voluntary work.

Chris Scott, from Tudhoe, near Spennymoor, County Durham, had battled mesothelioma - a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos - for more than a decade when he died on Thursday, July 10, aged 75.

Mr Scott joined Upper Teesdale and Weardale Fell Rescue Association when it was formed in 1968 and was a key member of Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team, which the association became in the 1990s.

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Team leader Pete Bell said: “Chris's wife Kathleen said he fought his illness with great courage and determination and those word sum up how we felt about Chris within the team.”

Mr Scott held many voluntary roles within the team including as a rescuer who attended call-outs, managed associate members and produced a computer incident log which was adopted by other rescue teams.

He also raised thousands of pounds for the charity on street collections, often with his wife, and was a major participant in the 2002 appeal to raise £150,000 to build a base for the team, vehicles and equipment.

That contribution was recognised with a lasting tribute when the base opened in Barnard Castle and was named The Chris Scott Search and Mountain Rescue Centre.

Former team leader Alan Best said: "Chris made an outstanding contribution to the team, he was the sort of person who worked away in the background and who you knew you can rely upon to do a good job.

“Chris has left his mark in a number of areas within the team.

“Over the years Chris played such an important role in taking the team from a group of poorly equipped, beg-steal and borrow enthusiasts, to the impressive highly trained, sophisticatedly equipped group that it is today."

Along with his wife Kathleen, Mr Scott leaves behind children, Mark and Rachel, and a grandson.

He was known by many as a tutor at South West Durham Training, in Newton Aycliffe- a job he left in May 2003 due to his deteriorating health- and founded a neighbourhood watch scheme in his village.

Mr Scott’s funeral will be at St David's Church, Tudhoe, at 11.30am today (Friday, July 18) and family have asked that funeral attire is not warn as it will be a celebration of his life. His coffin will be carried on a mountain rescue vehicle.