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International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day

08th March, 2022

To mark International Women’s Day 2022, Scottish Mountain Rescue thought it would be a great idea to introduce some of our female team members, who share their experiences of joining and being part of a mountain rescue team in Scotland.

We asked Hannah Blair about being part of Tayside MRT.

 My name is Hannah, and I have been a member of Tayside Mountain Rescue since 2013.  My awareness and interest in Mountain Rescue began through a friend who taught me to climb when I was a teenager, but it was a number of years later as a single mum of 2 pre-school boys that I made contact with the Tayside Team Leader, curious about what was required in order to join the team.  I’m not sure I even meant to join at that time, but after a super supportive conversation with the Team Leader I submitted my application, on his suggestion, so that he could give me specific feedback on my skills and experience.  It was easily one of the best things I ever did.  Getting scarily close to a decade later being part of the team has become a massive part of my life.

The best thing about being in MR is definitely the people.  I have made many lifetime friendships, met even more great people, and it is by far the most inclusive and welcoming group of people I’ve had the pleasure to be part of.  I’ve had more experiences and opportunities through MR than I ever thought was possible.   It took us a few years to realise it, but it also turned out that one particular team member, Colin, was destined to be more than a friend.  The most memorable times as part of MR have probably been big searches and rescues.  The teamwork required, combined with the high stakes and difficult conditions, has a way of bringing people together.  Sometimes these memories are positive, despite being associated with a negative outcome – there is nothing quite like the way the night sky looks when it clears during a long and miserable night on the hill.  Other memories are far more fun, and come from training weekends and social events – like climbing on the sea cliffs of Lewis, or a training exercise we took part in with the Hebrides team and the Coastguard helicopter the day before, or marshalling at our fundraising duathlon and the social aspect of that which pre-Covid always included, evening live music.

My “day job” has evolved a few times during the time I have been part of MR.  Until last year I managed Pinkston Watersports in Glasgow, but I have recently made the move to go self-employed.  I now combine doing guided walks and navigation courses through my website scottishoutdooradventure.com, some freelance work, and financial and admin support for a local youth work charity.  I’m also looking at how to offer my previous training as a business coach in an outdoor environment.  This change means I can do far more of what I really love, which is spending time in the outdoors; walking, climbing, canoeing, kayaking or anything else that gets me outside.  Being able to share that with others is an added bonus.

In order to balance MR I have been lucky that my mum was always there to pick up the pieces if there was a call out, and for my children MR as a way of life is all that they know.  With Colin also being on the team, MR is an important consideration for both of us at home.  I have been in jobs where I had the flexibility to make up any time out at a later date.  Life is always a juggle, but MR quickly became and remained a priority for me in that juggle.

If someone was considering joining a team and wasn’t sure if they have enough experience or knowledge, my advice would definitely be to make contact and ask the question.  Who knows where that conversation might lead?

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