The members of the Skye Mountain Rescue Team are local men and women from all over the island who give up their time to assist others in a time of emergency. The team members are all volunteers and receive no payment or retainer fee.
Team members receive regular training in skills such as first aid, navigation, rope-work, working with helicopters, and winter mountaineering. Within the team we have a variety of skills including a search and rescue dog handler (SARDA), a team medical officer, rope access specialists and several mountain leaders and guides.
An elected committee oversees the running and organisation of the Team. Committee members share responsibility for training, equipment, fund-raising, accounts and administration. New members serve a minimum twelve month probationary period when they are assessed with the aim of being added to the full call out list. In 2015 the team became a registered Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation or SCIO.
The visitor’s book at the Sligachan Hotel records the first mountain rescue incident on Skye in 1870 when a man fron Liverpool fell and died whilst descending Sgurr nan Gillean.
Between 1870 and 1930 there were three further fatalities recorded in the visitor’s book. After 1930 the number of visitors to the mountains increased and so did the mountain incidents and fatalities. During the war there was little mountaineering activity but in the 1950’s the first volunteer rescue team was established on Skye. Jonacks MacKenzie, a Portree postman led a team of local shepherds, ghillies and policemen. Also by this time the first RAF Search and Rescue helicopters were also operating alongside the volunteers.
In the 1960’s Pete Thomas took over as Team Leader for over a decade and subsequently John MacLeod in 1971 for an interim year. John MacLeod later received an MBE from the Queen for services to mountain rescue after serving as Skye MR team Chairman for many years. In 1972 Gerry Akroyd took on the position of team leader and continued until May 2018. In January 2010 Gerry was awarded an MBE for services to mountain rescue in the Queen’s New Years honours list.
In May 2018 Gerry retired after over 45 years as team leader and Neil Urquhart was elected by the team as the new team leader. James Stephenson is Deputy Team Leader with Ben Wear and Ian Stewart assisting as ATLs. Also part of the leadership team are Helen Urquhart and Sarah Stephenson who often initiate call-outs and direct operations where required.