A MOUNTAIN rescue team has officially said goodbye to a long-serving team 'member'.

The Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team has retired their "old friend" and rescue vehicle, which they purchased in 2003.

And over the last 15 years it has been used in nearly every callout from searching for missing people to rescuing injured walkers.

It has also endured the harshest of conditions including last year's Beast from the East'.

The Land Rover called Stan's Van, and was named after a former team member.

It's last day in service was on Saturday, February 23.

A spokesman for the team said: "He has served us well and covered over 60,000 miles and like all Land Rovers they have their own charm, and foibles, such as off-set steering, vibration you can feel through your bum or ventilation that comes through all parts of the vehicle but most of all we loved the traction of 4x4 wheel drive."

The new replacement for Stan’s Van will be named Teesdale Mobile 1.

Its role is to transport team members to different locations during a search, drop equipment off and if needed transport a casualty to another ambulance.

It has taken the team just over 15 years to fundraise for the vehicle.

The spokesman added: "We have invested considerable time to make ensure we obtained a quality vehicle optimized for team working.

"Our new vehicle is an Isuzu D Max 4x4 pick-up in Mountain Rescue livery fitted with a high-level rear canopy, emergency lighting and sirens, front winch, tow bar, underbody guards, front & side spot lights, and a bespoke internal racking system for carrying team equipment.

"We hope our new vehicle will serve us for many years as it has four big boots to fill.

"When deciding on the specification for our new vehicle we took into consideration the varied terrain, hazardous conditions we operate, looked at the operation of ageing Defender and how things have changed over the last 15 years.

"This helped us to focus on what we need from a vehicle and achieve a specification to enable us to facilitate any incident that we are called to in the future."

The team said they wanted to thank everyone involved.