A call has gone out for new volunteers to step forward and join a vital life-saving organisation.

A rise in the popularity of fell walking has led to Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team putting out an appeal for more members to help save lives.

With the team seeing a spike in the number of callouts they receive, they are hoping to future-proof their organisation and ensure there will always be volunteers on hand to rescue stranded walkers.

“Last year Wasdale Mountain Rescue received 141 alerts resulting in 110 callouts. This year it has already had between 70 and 80 call outs and the year has not ended,” said spokesman Phil Hall.

“It is challenging and sometimes extremely difficult. But to be able to rescue someone off the fells and to save a life makes it worthwhile.”

Mr Hall said full training would be given to anyone willing to step forward and help them out. Volunteers would be trained to a high standard over an 18-month period, including 12 months probation.

The worth of the service was proved on Saturday.

Two walkers were airlifted to hospital on y after being hit by a rock fall at Lord’s Rake on Scafell.

One is believed to have sustained a head injury and the other injured his leg. The Prestwick Coastguard helicopter airlifted the men to hospital.

It will be three months before volunteers even leave the base but by the end of that period, they will be trained in every aspect of mountain rescue work from manning the base to searching the fells for missing or injured climbers.

They will also be joining another new recruit - Jess the Border Collie.

Jess is the fifth rescue dog trained by Penny Kirkby, who has been part of the Wasdale Mountain Rescue team for almost 30 years.

She said dogs are valuable members of a team and Jess was shaping up to be “brilliant.”

She said the secret was to make the dogs think their work is fun and to ensure they have plenty of rewards.

“You train them a little the time. Jess is now ready to go,” she said.

“They can track quicker by using their sense of smell and move over rough terrain better than us. They are a real asset to the team.”

Wasdale spokesman Phil Hall agreed: “We have been without a dog since Penny’s last one, Olly, died. We are looking forward to Jess joining us.”

Wasdale has 35 volunteers at present but would like 45 eventually doing every aspect of the work.

Anyone interested in joining the group can apply through the website https://www.wmrt.org.uk/