THEY are ready to be called into action - whatever the weather.

This winter's heavy snowfalls are testing the expertise of a team of 4x4 volunteers whose horsepower is helping to keep people moving.

Health care staff, ensuring doctors and nursing staff can get into hospitals and hospices are just some of the workers who have benefitted from the West Yorkshire 4x4 Volunteers.

Based in Cleckheaton, the 80-strong team have clocked up around 1,000 miles over the past few years driving around the communities to get people moving if they get stranded in snow.

Bobbie-Leigh Cartwright, the team's media officer, explains the group is part of the local Resilience Forum incorporating emergency organisations such as the police.

According to Bobbie-Leigh, the forum is "everybody that can help in a national emergency."

During the recent snow falls the volunteers were able to take health care staff into their caring workplaces and collect those who were forced to abandon their cars when they became stuck in the snow.

Bobbie-Leigh explains they averaged between 15 to 20 jobs during the evening of one of the heaviest snowfalls.

However, despite their efforts, and the fact that the volunteers dedicate their own time to do this, they've faced setbacks.

Shortly after Christmas some of their equipment was stolen from their control base resulting in them having to operate from a member's home, but the group remain undeterred in their quest to provide an important service to the local community.

As well as helping care staff get to their workplaces, the team are often called upon to pull vehicles out of the snow to keep people moving.

Bobbie-Leigh explains members are able to develop their skills through training on a specialist 4x4 site near Rochdale.

Keeping it in the family, Bobbie-Leigh became involved in the organisation through her father, Paul, who is the group's treasurer, and brother Jason.

Paul explains since the group launched in 2011 Jason and Bobbie-Leigh have attended many social events including camping weekends.

Due to their ages, they didn't become full members until 2012. Jason became more involved during the winter months and Bobbie helped with fundraising during the show season.

"I wanted to help as much as I could," says Bobbie-Leigh.

And the family circle is extending.... Through her involvement in the group Bobbie-Leigh met her partner, Lewis, who is also a member with his 4x4 Nissan Patrol.

"We are not the only family within West Yorkshire 4x4 Volunteers," explains Paul.

"There are many spread around West Yorkshire and it is amazing to see a great family atmosphere at group related events.

"Over the years I have not only seen my own children grow and turn into amazing adults, but I have also seen other members children grow up from young children to respectable young adults. It is a real family feeling, our very own wy4x4vol family."

Paul says the organisation gives him a 'sense of pride.' "We are offering our help to the local community and surrounding areas, such as when the group first started one of my very first callouts turned out to be supporting a doctor who was helping a neighbour who lived a few houses away from me."

As well as getting people from A to B in snow, the team also rallied round during the floods. They support local charities and events too working closely with Kirkwood Hospice, in Huddersfield, helping care staff to get to work in extreme weather conditions, and marshalling at fundraising events such as the charity's annual Colour Rush at Oakwell Hall, Birstall, and the Midnight Memory Walk.

They are always keen to swell their ranks too. "We are always wanting to increase our number of volunteers, anyone can help even if they don't own a 4x4," says Bobbie-Leigh.

"We have many things which we need support on such as fundraising throughout the year, working with Kirkwood hospice giving them support during their events and much more.

"When the weather starts to change and the snow starts to fall we look for 4x4 drivers to offer their own time to help the community.

"As we work throughout the snow period we also need controllers to work within our control team to ensure that we run smoothly," explains Bobbie-Leigh."

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