Mountain rescue

181. Mario Di Maio

A mountain rescue volunteer has saved hundreds of lives during 44 years of service as part of the Aberdeen Mountain Rescue team.

Mario Di Maio from Aberdeen has rescued people from over 600 incidents since he joined Aberdeen Mountain Rescue in 1970 and still volunteers with the team. Over the years he has helped to train over 150 new recruits and now mentors many of the younger volunteers, sharing his knowledge and experience of the mountains to benefit the next generation of rescuers.

Aberdeen Mountain Rescue Team, provides mountain rescue services for walkers in the Cairngorms and the hills of Lower Donside and Royal Deeside. Mario spent 19 years as team leader of a close knit group of volunteers on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Throughout his time he would head into the mountains in all weather conditions to help those in distress or injured on the slopes of some of the UK’s most dangerous terrain.

Mario has been involved in some of the area’s most memorable mountain incidents, including the Cairngorm disaster in 1971 when five teenagers and their instructor died and two were rescued during a winter storm. Mario also led the team that recovered the bodies of two US Air Force personnel whose aircraft crashed in the Cairngorms in 2001.

He was instrumental in encouraging the Order of St John to help finance mountain rescue teams throughout Scotland and, thanks to Mario’s persistence, Aberdeen was the first mountain rescue team to have a purpose built headquarters in 1997, paid for by the Order.

Although Mario retired as team leader when he turned 60 in 2013, he still plays an important part in the team, attending call outs and regularly visiting youth groups to educate young people about staying safe in the mountains. He has also worked hard to encourage people from all backgrounds to become a part of the mountain rescue team, and encourages anyone over 18 years old with a good fitness level to apply. His dedication has been recognised by his peers and he recently received the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland’s Distinguished Service Award this year to celebrate the Team’s 50th anniversary.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Mario has given over forty years of service to the Aberdeen Mountain Rescue team, responding to 600 incidents and saving hundreds of lives. He has shown tremendous commitment and dedication to making sure others can stay safe. I am delighted to award him a Point of Light.”

Maureen Watt, MSP for Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, said:

“I would like to congratulate Mario Di Maio on this significant achievement and for the tenacity and skill that he has shown over the past 44 years, and continues to show in the Aberdeen Mountain Rescue Team. Many people from over 600 incidents since 1970 owe their lives to Mario and the team, and I would like to personally thank him for his dedication to helping others often in harsh and dangerous conditions, while volunteering in this way. Mario is a selfless inspiration, and I am glad that the vast contribution that he has made to his community has been recognised by the Point of Light awards.”

Simon Steer, Chair of Scottish Mountain Rescue said:

“It is really gratifying to see such recognition for a long standing and committed volunteer from the world of Scottish Mountain Rescue. Mario is representative of the approximately 1,000 volunteers who respond any hour; any day and in any weather to around 700 incidents every year.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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