Sheffield caver took part in record-breaking Brecon Beacons rescue to save injured man

A Sheffield caver who traveled to Wales to join a rescue operation after a fellow caver was injured in the Brecon Beacons has spoken about his experience.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 2:57 pm
Volunteers from cave rescue groups across the UK were involved in the operation. Image: SMWCRT.

Will Burn, aged 29, a member of Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation, answered a call to take part in the rescue of George Linnane who fell 50 feet while caving in the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu cave network last Saturday.

He and his fellow caver housemate travelled down to Wales from Foxhill, Sheffield, on the evening of November 7, after DCR got the call for extra bodies to help.

Will said: “It was very busy, these things can seem chaotic but it was very well organised. South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team was running the show.

Will has been a caver for 12 years and a member of Derbyshire Cave Rescue for five.

"We were immediately assigned to a time slot when we were going to go underground. I went under at 3am on Monday morning. I had to get some food and sleep before.

"Our teams were taking the stretcher down the streamway, we were in there for about eight hours.

"It was very tiring, I still feel like I have been beaten up. I am still aching. It was pretty cold and the streamway was pretty wet, but many hands make light work.

"There were 18 people in my team. Every three hours a new team would come in and refresh people who were already there.

The 53 hour long rescue is believed to be the longest stretcher carry in British caving history. Image: SMWCRT

"George could tell us when he needed something, people were giving a bit of banter with him.

"He wasn’t talking a lot, he was fairly seriously injured. It got a bit better for him once he was into dry cave passages.”

George was carried out of the cave on a stretcher on Monday evening, after a 53-hour long rescue operation which is believed to be the longest stretcher carry in British caving history.

He was taken from the cave entrance by Land Rover and is now recovering in hospital having suffered a broken tibia, fibula and jaw, as well as chest injuries.

Will said that this was the largest cave rescue operation he has been involved in.

Will added: “When he was out it felt pretty good. I had completed a job well done.

"That is what we turn up for and that is what we want to see. People at the entrance cheered and clapped, it was a big relief.”

A 250-strong rescue team were behind the record-breaking rescue. Cavers had to clamber over boulders, wade along underground streams, negotiate narrow passages, and crawl on their knees.

The man who led the mission described the operation as a "huge jigsaw puzzle".

A team or roughly 300 people were involved in rescuing George. The next largest operation Will has taken part in involved 70 people. Image: SMWCRT

At their deepest the caves are some 300m deep, making them the deepest in the UK, while they stretch for more than 30 miles making them the third-longest cave system in the UK.

The South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team are running a fundraiser following the rescue operation.

You can donate to the cause via their page on Facebook.