BCRC presentation to Bill Whitehouse MBE

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A special presentation was made during the closing session of the ResCon22 cave rescue conference in Castleton on Sunday 26 June. Peter Dennis, current BCRC chairman, on behalf of the BCRC Executive officers, presented Bill Whitehouse with a figurine of a crouched caver*, made by acclaimed artist Ceris Jones, to mark Bill’s remarkably long and continuing, voluntary service to cave rescue.

BCRC Executive with Bill Whitehouse
Bill Whitehouse (with figurine) and fellow BCRC Officers. (Picture: Zeina Yehya)


This was a fitting occasion since Bill was amongst many peers as a senior member of both Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation, the host cave rescue team of ResCon 22, the BCRC and many representatives of other cave rescue teams that know him very well. The presentation was to recognize Bill’s service in support of cave rescue, alongside operational duties, over many years, notably the essential work behind the scenes to represent and support cave rescue within the wider Search and Rescue community across the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Bill has a keen eye and has frequently scrutinised the variety of documents that have emerged from the Police, UK Search and Rescue and Government Departments of State proposing or heralding changes in legislation, regulations and guidance that may impact cave rescue. Frankly, a thankless task that many would not bear. Bill reviews such documents in meticulous detail and has often anticipated potential, adverse effects on cave rescue or cave rescue teams. In many such cases he has actively engaged in dialogue with the officials, submitted concerns substantiated by evidence gathered and influenced the outcome or gained concessions.

The remarkable aspect is that Bill has been conducting such work for 42 years since the formation of the British Cave Rescue Council in 1980. He served 35 of those years as chairman of BCRC and remains Vice-chairman, with UK SAR responsibilities. In addition, Bill was active in the predecessor organisation, the Cave Rescue Council, elected as chairman (specifically for the purpose of chairing Annual General Meetings) on two occasions, 1975 and 1978, adding at least another five years of such involvement. It is this wealth of experience and skills that has also enabled Bill to contribute to the BCRC support of cave rescue operations overseas, notably support of the rescue divers in Tham Luang cave, Thailand in 2018.

Cave rescue in Britain and Ireland owes Bill a huge debt of gratitude for his voluntary time, devotion and guidance.

Peter Dennis, Chairman BCRC

Footnote: *A statuette of a cave photographer in the same medium may be familiar to those who have seen the Giles Barker Award presented to individuals for ‘excellence in cave photography’ at the annual British Caving Association, Hidden Earth conferences.