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The UK's highest Mountain, Ben Nevis, provided the dramatic backdrop for world-acclaimed Scottish climber Dave Macleod and Ian Macleod Distillers, one of Scotland's leading distillers and bottlers, to unveil an exclusive three year sponsorship agreement with Scottish Mountain Rescue through its Isle of Skye 8 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky.
The aim of the partnership is to generate essential funds and raise awareness of the importance of Scottish Mountain Rescue's voluntary work across Scotland. Over £100,000 has already been invested by the Distiller towards a dedicated 'Isle of Skye Mountain Spirit' campaign, which will contribute specifically to the supply of vital new specialised rescue equipment, support to the SARDA (Search and Rescue Dog Associations) rescue dogs and the provision of highly specialised avalanche rescue training across the Charity's 26 volunteer Mountain rescue teams in year one of the sponsorship.
This is the first commercial drinks partnership undertaken with the umbrella Scottish Mountain Rescue body and the Distiller is demonstrating its commitment with an initial cash donation of £10,000. This will be bolstered by 15p from the sale of each bottle of Isle of Skye 8 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky going directly to the Charity. A special UK edition of the Isle of Skye 8 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky, featuring a bespoke Scottish Mountain Rescue label, will be released for sale in the coming weeks.
There has been an annual increase in mountaineering incidents across Scotland over the last few years. On average, there are approximately 600 rescues a year and over 700 people assisted across the 26 volunteer Mountain Rescue teams per annum. In the past winter (2012/13) alone, there were eight avalanche-related fatalities, with the volunteers from Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team responding to one particular avalanche incident that claimed the lives of four people.
With a 70% increase in hill walking and climbing visits to Scotland and typically 991,000 visitors in December and January alone for the purpose of outdoor activities, more and more pressure is being placed on Scottish Mountain Rescue resources.
Commenting on the announcement, Chairman of Scottish Mountain Rescue, Jonathan Hart said:
"Scottish Mountain Rescue is a world class volunteer service. There are over 1000 volunteers in the 26 Mountain Rescue teams, spread across the whole of Scotland, whom freely and willingly give up their time to assist those in distress in the Scottish Mountains and other inaccessible areas across the country. This volunteer service is available all day, all night and in all weather conditions. Working in partnership with Ian Macleod distillers provides Scottish Mountain Rescue an outstanding opportunity to raise essential funds to support the sustainability of this critically important service.
"Together, we have identified key opportunities for the funds, raised by this sponsorship, to be directed at the provision of essential avalanche rescue training and for the supply of very specialised winter rescue equipment such as stretchers and avalanche probes that will benefit both the casualties, by providing a faster location and transport time to hospital as well as supporting the volunteer team members with improved safety margins by having available the most up to date equipment available. After the rescue is successfully concluded, they may also enjoy a wee dram."
Neil Boyd, UK Commercial Director for Ian Macleod Distillers, added:
"The dedication and unfailing commitment to saving lives that's shown by mountain rescue volunteers is inspiring and the catalyst behind the campaign.
"There is a natural association between Isle of Skye 8 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky and Scottish Mountain Rescue, the brand is inextricably linked to the wild, embodying the landscape of Skye - home of the Clan Macleod - the great outdoors and the spirit of endurance.
"The funds raised from the Isle of Skye Mountain Spirit campaign will support integral rescue resources for all of Scotland's mountains and ultimately help safeguard the hundreds of volunteers who risk their lives on a daily basis to help others.
"Scottish Mountain Rescue identified a requirement for more specialist avalanche training, stretchers and SARDA dogs and fundraising throughout the coming year will contribute to these necessary resources. Every bottle sold of Isle of Skye 8 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky is going to make a direct contribution to Scottish Mountain Rescue and we would anticipate the campaign will help raise awareness of the Charity's work and hopefully inspire other companies and individuals to come forward and support volunteer efforts."
Ben Nevis avalanche survivor, Hannah Mcaleese, aged 28 highlights the importance of supporting Scottish Mountain Rescue:
"I was rescued from an avalanche on Ben Nevis in 2006. The support from the Lochaber Mountain Rescue team helped me rebuild my life. The strength and dedication of the volunteers cannot be underestimated, they go above and beyond their jobs and look for no thanks but they need our support too. This campaign is a fantastic way to promote the invaluable work that they do day in, day out and I'd encourage everyone to get behind this."
Dave Macleod, one of the world's leading professional climbers, added:
"I'm really pleased to see Scottish Mountain Rescue get the backing they so deserve. It's important that we can all explore the mountains from a health and wellbeing perspective as well as enjoying Scotland's countryside all year round. Scottish Mountain Rescue plays a vital role in safeguarding our wellbeing yet the work of the volunteers goes largely un-noticed. This campaign will be instrumental in helping to raise the profile of the teams' work and reminds us all why it's so important to support them."
The Isle of Skye Mountain Spirit campaign will be supported by national advertising, PR, fundraising events, a dedicated website with online fundraising function and crucially the new bottle design based on Scottish Mountain Rescue photography with the logo and bottle contribution of 15p from each sale clearly stated on the label.
The new bottle of Isle of Skye 8 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky will be available from early October in the on and off trade with stockists including Scottish Tesco and ASDA stores as well as specialist and independents. For more information, visit www.isleofskyewhisky.com, contact Scottish Mountain Rescue on 01479 861370 or call Neil Boyd, UK Commercial Director for Ian Macleod Distillers on 01506 852205.