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Mountain rescue bid for ex-Watton pupils

PUBLISHED: 16:19 31 December 2007 | UPDATED: 09:50 08 July 2010

They grew up looking at a landscape punctuated by the smallest of hills but now they are conquering Scotland's most challenging peaks.

Watton students William Sandcraft and Lana Coogans are scaling towering heights at Prince Charles's former school Gordonstoun in Scotland as part of the school's mountain rescue team.

They grew up looking at a landscape punctuated by the smallest of hills but now they are conquering Scotland's most challenging peaks.

Watton students William Sandcraft and Lana Coogans are scaling towering heights at Prince Charles's former school Gordonstoun in Scotland as part of the school's mountain rescue team.

In the few months since joining the sixth form they have left behind gentle strolls along the Norfolk Broads to negotiate the sheer slopes of the Scottish Highlands and abseil the cliffs of the Moray Firth coastline.

Now William, 16, of Carbrooke, and Lana, 16, of Shipdham, former pupils of Wayland Community High School, have been chosen as part of a team of six from more than 200 students to take part in one of the school's toughest mountain rescue expeditions.

In March the pair will set off for a four-day climb battling biting winds in sub-zero temperatures as they use ice axes to traverse the crags and crevasses of the Cairngorms in East Scotland.

Once the pair have completed their training they will become part of the school's official team that works along the emergency services on mountain rescues.

Lana said: “It is fairly scary to start with but once you conquer that it is a real adrenaline rush.

“I have been on the odd climbing wall before but never anything this serious.

“The course we have been chosen for is one of the toughest because it is not only the climbing you have also got to deal with the elements.

“It is an absolutely brilliant opportunity.”

Their training promises a bright future - one of the school's former mountain rescue team is now attempting to become the youngest Scot to climb Mount Everest.

William described his newfound love for mountaineering and talked about a recent expedition.

“The trip took us to the heart of the Cairngorms for an ascent in cold and foggy conditions which took us across a ridge which looked a bit fearsome from below but was actually okay as we walked across the top,” he said.

“As part of our service training we have also learnt how to abseil, taking in some steep descents down craggy cliff faces and down a trickier gully - this is all designed to help us to safely support other rescue teams in real- life situations in awkward places.

“I am proud to be here and determined to make the most of every opportunity the school offers me.

“It's a really great place to live and learn.”

Lana and William are two of six pupils from Wayland Community High School who won places in the Gordonstoun sixth form.

They are following in the footsteps of royalty, with former alumni including Prince Charles, Prince Philip, Zara Phillips, author William Boyd, blues maestro Dick Heckstall-Smith and Viscount Rothermere, owner of the Daily Mail newspaper group.

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