OLDHAM’S heroes of the hills have made a heart-felt appeal urging visitors to stay away from the moors over Easter weekend because of the coronavirus threat.

Oldham Mountain Rescue Team is backing a plea by its national organisation calling on the public to make a “sound judgement” over any moves away from home at this critical time.

OMRT chair Justin Parkinson said: "It’s vital we all do what we can to minimise the spread of the infection.

“Anything that could lead to a trip or a fall requiring the assistance of Mountain Rescue, or indeed an already stretched NHS, simply puts more lives at risk.

“It’s just not worth it! STAY at home, PROTECT the NHS and SAVE lives.”

Meanwhile, Mountain Rescue England and Wales (MREW) is following national health protection advice as a voluntary service.

“Our priority is resilience,” Mike France, MREW senior executive officer, explained.

“We need to make sure as many of our trained volunteers as possible are available for essential call outs and to support the paid emergency services as needed.”

MR teams across the country have been disappointed to see walkers ignoring the national advice, travelling into National Parks and other areas and, it is assumed, expecting MR volunteers to risk their own lives - and those of their families and colleagues - to come to a walker’s aid if called.

“The hills and upland areas will still be there to be enjoyed once the restrictions are lifted,” said Mike.

“It is vitally important people continue to be responsible and everyone stays at home over the Easter weekend. That is what will save lives and protect not only the NHS but also our MR volunteers.”

And bosses of the Peak District National Park, which coves Dovestone, say they have been encouraging tens of thousands of followers on social media to continue sharing their love of the area undertaking challenges from home and sharing experiences of wildlife and nature in their local area.

A spokesperson said: “Our ranger patrols have been heartened by the quiet scenes experienced in the Peak District in the last couple of weeks and, where we have spoken to occasional visitors arriving by vehicle, they have understood the message and headed home.

“With Easter often an important family time and so many of us now restricted in our communication with others, we know the temptation will be there alongside the warm weather to meet up with loved ones and friends.

“However, the government’s measures and our own message remains unchanged – stay home, protect our NHS and save lives. It’s in all our interests to stay safe and well – and not to risk catching or spreading coronavirus.

“The best possible Easter gift we can all give is to work together as individuals and as a whole community to reduce the impact on the front line workers giving their time and, in some cases their lives, to look after us all.”