A cave rescuer who has saved countless lives has been honoured with an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for his tireless dedication.
Richard Whitehouse, who is known to his friends and family as Bill, has been given the accolade for services to cave and mountain rescue organisations.
The 71-year-old, who has been with the Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation (DCRO) for 52 years, said: “This is a real honour and very unexpected.
“Those weird conversations from months ago come back to you and you wonder if people were organising this for a very long time.”
During his time he has been involved in 226 incidents, which represents over two thirds of the incidents dealt with by DCRO during this period. In 1971 he was appointed rescue controller.
Bill, from Monksdale Close, Tideswell, said: “There are rescues that stick in your mind. I remember when a scout went missing from his pack in 1990 in Matlock Bath. He had dived under the water and found an air pocket but got trapped. I’ll never forget when the diver shouted ‘I’ve found him, he’s alive’.”
Bill is among a handful of people in the East Midlands to receive an honour for services to the country to mark the Queen’s official birthday.
He was instrumental in setting up the Mountain and Cave Rescue Benevolent Fund for volunteers experiencing physical or financial difficulties. He was also involved in the formation of the British Cave Rescue Council.
Bill, who has also received Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals, along with the Chief Constable’s Commendation for Services to Cave Rescue, added: “Cave rescue is not something you can do on your own, it is a team mission and I will share this honour with all the rescuers up and down the country.”