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Posted on Friday 9 April 2021
Neal Swinburn

THANKS: Neal Swinburn

When you’re in the first week of the job and come to the rescue of your former schoolteacher – now that’s a reunion!

PC Adam Hind was on shift with mentor, PC Rich Bryson, when the duo responded to a report of a pair of stranded walkers in an isolated part of Weardale on Wednesday.

Friends Alan Clark and Neal Swinburn were on one of their familiar walks out of Wolsingham when Mr Clark twisted his knee.

“I have arthritis in the left knee and I felt a click and after about 15 minutes it became very swollen and painful,” the 67-year-old said. “It was a bit irritating to say the least.”

The experienced ramblers were well prepared and had their National Grid coordinates as well as their What3Words location: inherits.snored.puddings when they called 999 for help.

Mr Swinburn, of Houghton-Le-Spring, said: “Alan is not one to complain and I knew when I saw how swollen his knee was that he wouldn’t be able to walk on it which was a bit concerning because we were in the middle of nowhere.

“I have the OS Locate and What3Words apps on my phone and it was a godsend.”

PC Hind and PC Bryson set off on the rescue mission but were hindered by closed access tracks and were helped by farmer, Lewis Stephenson, who found a route to the men.

Joined by members of the Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team (TWSMRT), the officers were able to locate the friends and escort them to a nearby ambulance which took Mr Clark to hospital.

“What was really good was that the two officers kept us informed throughout so we knew they were coming,” Mr Swinburn added.

The 64-year-old, who only retired from teaching last year, said: “I thought I recognised one of the officers and it turns out I used to teach him so it was quite something to be rescued by one of your former pupils.”

Mr Clark, a retired social services team leader from Sunderland, is now recovering at home and said he wanted to thank all those who helped.

“You always hope you won’t have to call on the emergency services but it was much appreciated and pretty impressive the way they did it,” he said. “My knee is still sore but thankfully no lasting damage and I’ll be back out again when I can – maybe even in time for the pub next week.”

PC Hind said: “It was a challenging job finding the two gentleman in the local fell and as it was deceivingly cold even with the bit of sunshine.

“We were concerned for their welfare - particularly for Alan, who had really hurt his leg and was unable to move around to keep himself warm.

“As it was only my fifth shift in the job, it was so rewarding to be able to find them and get them back to safety so Alan could be treated for his leg and  it was another pleasant surprise was finding out that Neal was an old teacher of mine back in secondary school so we had a catch up too.

“Being able to help people like this is why I joined the police and I’m very happy to have been involved.”

Team Leader for TWSMRT, Steve Owers, said: “It was a good joint effort between Police, Mountain Rescue and the Ambulance service.

“The initial location was received via What3Words which was useful and we backed that up with the Mountain Rescue Phone Find system to find their exact national grid location.

“Both Alan and Neal are experienced walkers and were well prepared. We would recommend all walkers have something that can locate their exact national grid reference in case of an emergency.”

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