Scottish winchman paramedic receives the Billy Deacon SAR Memorial Trophy

The north face of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK
The north face of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK, where the December 2018 rescue took place.

Thanks to a sterling rescue effort at Ben Nevis – Scotland’s self-proclaimed ‘iconic mountain’ – Scott Sharman of Inverness Rescue 951 has been awarded the Billy Deacon Search and Rescue Memorial Trophy at this year’s Air League awards ceremony at St James’ Palace, London.

The valiant rescue took place in adverse conditions in December 2018, after two climbers suffered a nasty fall at Tower Gulley on the north face of the mountain. One had fallen over 1,000ft and was suffering rather severely from a head injury, whilst the other had raised the alarm and was attempting to clamber down to reach his partner.

Thankfully the crew shortly arrived. “The crew elected to winch to a small boulder field located centrally within the gulley, around 20ft away from the casualties. The aircraft cleared the immediate area, which allowed Scott to free-climb to the casualties, using crampons and ice axe, and administer paramedic first aid,” a spokesperson for the award said.

Despite their best efforts, the first climber had sustained significant injuries from the fall and sadly passed away after being winched to safety and flown to a landing site awaiting an ambulance. Remarkably, however, with only cracked ribs, the second survived, and Sharman has now been recognised for his outstanding performance during the rescue mission.

“His ability to free climb across a steep snow field and employ paramedic skills on the side of a mountain is commendable, along with the strength of mind to quickly regain composure and focus on the recovery of the second casualty,” said the spokesperson. “Scott displayed exceptional skill and courage in extracting the casualties from their precarious situation, offering them the best possible chance of survival.”