A £56,000 grant has helped fund a third Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue emergency response vehicle and new equipment.

The mountain rescue team has spent the past 12 months fund-raising for the new response vehicle, named the ‘Curlew Echo’, as the volunteer-led service copes with rising demand in their services.

Grants from Northumberland Leader and the Northumberland County Council community fund have helped the team invest in the third vehicle, which is worth £56,000.

Team leader, Ian Dixon, said; “This is a huge investment for us, and means we can respond to incidents a lot quicker in the most remote locations.

“We have got a specially designed back system to carry all our specialist gear. This also enables us to store our medical kit, technical rope rescue system and new stretcher.”

The new vehicle, based in Rothbury, was called into action for the first time last week at an incident at the Crammel Linn waterfall, near Gilsland.

The mountain rescue team has also benefited from a number of Ordnance Survey maps donated by the Hexham Courant.

“Last year, we invested £20,000 in modern radios that assist us in our work,” Ian said.

“The changes are needed due to the increasing number of incidents we’re responding to.

“We responded to 139 incidents last year, and we’re already seeing more and more demand on our service this year.

“This is expected though. We knew that we’d see an increase in our involvement in incidents, and recognised that we will see an increase in around ten incidents a year.”

The team saw a sharp increase in resilience-based incidents in the extreme weather during the ‘Beast from the East’, and have already dealt with 49 incidents this year.

The Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue team also regularly work with the North of Tyne Mountain Rescue team to manage incidents and respond to call-outs.

Ian added: “We’re also becoming involved in different types of incidents.

“Our specialist mobility training and skills allows us to access difficult situations other services can’t.”