The Billy Deacon SAR Memorial Trophy and an inscribed Breitling watch was presented by Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence at the Air League’s Annual Reception Ceremony at the House of Commons, London, on 14 June 2023. The award is sponsored by Bristow Helicopters and Breitling (U.K).
The 2023 award for rescues carried out in 2022 has been made to winch paramedic Duncan Tripp of the Inverness search and rescue Helicopter base in Scotland. Duncan is a winch paramedic with Bristow Group who deliver helicopter Search and Rescue services throughout the U.K. on behalf of His Majesty’s Coastguard.
Award citation states: “On March 8, 2023, Duncan rescued trapped climbers from Ben Nevis, in appalling weather conditions of near zero visibility, freezing temperatures and storm force winds. At an altitude of 3,600 feet the mountain was covered in ice and snow making the paths treacherous. He operated on foot, carrying 30 kg of lifesaving equipment, as the weather was too bad for the rescue helicopter to fly to the site. He was separated from the aircraft for six hours. At great personal risk his leadership, sheer determination, energy sapping physical effort and courage ensured the safety of 24 people, some of whom faced life-threatening situations.”
George Rawlinson MBE, Award Committee chair commended Tripp by saying, “This incredibly demanding rescue was completed in extreme weather conditions. Facing a multiple casualty situation, Duncan demonstrated the highest levels of leadership, fortitude and bravery. Leaving the rescue helicopter to strike out on his own up the mountain in storm force freezing weather is testament to his personal qualities, skill and courage. His decision making, selfless acts at great personal risk during those six hours on Ben Nevis contributed to the safe recovery of 24 people and most notably two trapped climbers in Red Burn Gulley.”