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Penny Kirby, Team Leader of Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team has been recognised in the New Years Honours

December 30, 2023

Penny is one of four Operational Duty Team Leaders within the Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team with over 40 years voluntary service . Penny is also a highly experienced Lake District Search Dog Handler with a similar number of years voluntary service and has made many successful finds with her four previous search dogs and now Jess .

In her early days as a rescuer, Penny along with her search dog Ben were heavily involved in the Lockerbie air disaster of December 1988, spending nearly a week helping with the enormous search operation. As a search dog handler she also has to be a fully active mountain rescuer within her own area of Wasdale and Eskdale in West Cumbria. To be both a dog handler plus a mountain rescuer goes well beyond what is expected from volunteers within mountain rescue.

Penny has responded to over 1,200 of the many ‘999’ callouts that the Wasdale team has handled over the past 40 years and over 100 of this year’s record of just under 170 ‘999’ incidents plus many more searches as a dog handler outside the Wasdale and Eskdale areas. Penny takes on a significant share of the leadership role in addition to attending and supporting searches anywhere across Cumbria and further a field which requires extraordinary dedication. Penny is a very committed, kind and empathic leader of the Wasdale team and is truly humbled in receiving her MBE.

Penny would like to say, “It is an immense honour to be receiving this award. I am very fortunate to be in a position to help people in an environment I love. It is a privilege to play a small part in my local mountain rescue team, Wasdale MRT, also the Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dogs Association, and the wider Mountain Rescue community. I value the fact that we are voluntary organisations and I am extremely proud of the service we provide. Mountain Rescue would not exist if it weren’t for the efforts of hundreds of colleagues and supporters across the country and I would like to thank them for their own time and commitment”.

Penny’s family, friends and colleagues in the Wasdale team, along with rescue colleagues across Cumbria and beyond pass on their congratulations and wish her well in her continuing mountain rescue activities.