American philosopher Cornel West once said: “you can’t move forward until you look back” and there’s no doubt that looking at the past can play a big part in equipping us with the correct tools for the future writes Andy Watson, Operations Manager (Aberdeen), MRS Training & Rescue.

There aren’t many organisations which can trace their roots back as far as we can, or in the way we can, and I believe that our ability to think about where we have come from and where we are going puts us, and our offering, in a unique position when it comes to meeting customer needs and exceeding their expectations.

As the third generation of my family to be involved in this sector, I also understand how we can leverage our heritage to take knowledge and strength from the past to navigate future challenges thus ensuring that we continue to evolve purposefully and in step with the world around us.

Our company’s roots in Scotland go back to 1910 when a Mines Rescue Service station was set up at Cowdenbeath in Fife and a lot has changed in that time, not least the demise of the coal industry. What has not changed, however, is our founding principal of the need to keep people safe at work and that is still what all our efforts are focused on, every single day.

From an initial requirement, all those years ago, to have competent, trained people on standby to rescue miners it quickly became apparent that there was a need to train the miners themselves to reduce the potential need for them to be rescued – and that proactive approach remains at the heart of our training philosophy today.

Despite confined space legislation coming into force 25 years ago, there are still around a dozen fatalities each year. In another key focus area for us – working at height training – 29 out of 123 people killed at work in 2021/22 lost their lives working at height and it’s still the biggest cause of workplace fatalities in the UK. These sobering statistics serve as a stark reminder of the importance of safety training in all sectors, modern or traditional, and this drives our past, present and future activities as an organisation.

In truly harmonising the past and the future the other thing which hasn’t changed, of course, is that alongside MRS Training & Rescue operating as a training provider in key locations across the UK, we are still the Mines Rescue Service and, if things do go wrong, we are still able to deploy exactly as we did a century ago.

For more information about MRS Training & Rescue’s new centre in Aberdeen visit: