A STALWART member of the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association has died at the age of 92.

Des Birch, a former outward bound instructor at Eskdale, died on November 10.

He had mountain rescue experience, was a very accomplished rock climber and mountaineer. He moved to Ilkley to teach maths at Ilkley Grammar School.

In 1959 Des joined the team after learning of a fatal accident in Dow Cave near Kettlewell.

He was a valued member and it was not long before he became an assistant search leader and then eventually search leader.

Des enjoyed the outdoors in the dales, particularly in Wharfedale and Littondale.

He became a very accomplished caver from the many underground rescues and held the post of underground leader for six years.

Des was made a life member in 1986 when he retired to Silloth.

One well known part of Des’ life was his chain smoking which he did underground as well as above.

He kept his cigarettes and matches under his helmet and when he smoked all of them, the first words he would utter on exiting a cave was: “Has anyone got a fag?”

His fellow members sad he had a very laid back approach but was a great asset to the team.