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Work set to begin on new mountain rescue HQ as volunteers rope in vital cash support

WORK is set to begin next month on the construction of a long-awaited headquarters for the Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue Team in Wicklow.

The site is located beside the headquarters for the Wicklow Mountains National Park at the entrance to Trooperstown Wood near Laragh, Co Wicklow.

The new base will provide the mountain rescue team with storage facilities for its emergency equipment.

The team recently received funding which will ensure the completion of phase one of the project.

The two-storey building and the grounds will be completed in two phases, and it is hoped that both will be completed this year. Vice chairman Conny O'Connell said that the rescue team had been in existence for 27 years and this would be the first time it had had a base, or that there would be a rescue base on the east coast.

He said that, up until now, local volunteers have had to store the vehicles used for rescue operations and equipment in their own homes and garages.

Phase one will see the construction of a storage area, while the second phase will see another storey added to the house, an operations room for planning and co-ordination of large rescue operations.

The base will be close to the Glendalough National Park area, where 30 to 40pc of the mountain rescue emergencies occur. In County Wicklow there are an average of 45 to 50 call-outs each year, but last year was the busiest yet with 62 call-outs, Mr O'Connell said.