Crew Role: Lifeboat Helmsman / PR Team / Land Search Party Leader
Joined SARA: March 2007
Occupation: Geography Teacher
Why did you join SARA? I have always had a love for the great outdoors and adventure sport. As a student I first encountered SARA when they were fundraising, I admit that I did wonder "a Mountain Rescue team here in the midlands?". I had a conversation with the crew members on the Sunday at a fundraising event and I was attending my first training session on the following Thursday...the rest as they say...is history.
How did joining SARA change you life? Being a member of SARA is a massive commitment and importantly requires the support of your family, as we can be called out anytime day or night. Shortly after joining, it was clear that SARA is more than a hobby, its a way of life and can often take over your life. While being an operational crew member takes a huge amount of effort, especially if your called out until 3am following a full days working and only a few hours before the next days work, its certainly one of the best decisions I've ever made to dedicate my free time to making a difference as part of SARA.
How have you found the learning process of the new skills required? When I joined I had very little previous experience, apart from being a strong navigator and having a passion for being outdoors. The learning process never stops, even now, I am still learning new skills. However, a passion for learning and self development is all you need to become an effective crew member.
What’s your most memorable experience? I have two really memorable moments from my 12 years service in SARA. The first was training with the RAF Rescue helicopters in winching operations at RAF Valley and training with the Police helicopter crews testing a water rescue initiative. These training sessions are incredibly rewarding and exciting to work so closely with these awesome machines.
The second experience was being part of the team during the 2007 floods, which incidentally was my first ever call out! The team worked through the night assisting people in danger from the extensive flooding across the region.
What’s the hardest thing you have ever done in SARA? One of the hardest things we do as a rescue team is body recovery's. Unfortunately from time to time we support the regular emergency services undertaking recovery's which never gets any easier. As a close knit team we have a great in-house support network and can even call on the counseling service from the police.
What's the best thing about being part of SARA? There are so many reasons why I love being part of SARA. Firstly its an amazing thing to do; there's so many great people doing some amazing things. I love being able to make a real difference to people lives, whether its making a child's day by sitting in our boat at a fundraising event or saving a life on a call out. I volunteer my time because I enjoy what I do, and over the years I have done so many exciting activities and seen things that you would never be exposed to in everyday life.
I fervently believe that “You get out, what you put in” – They only way to really fully immerse yourself in the team is to put as much effort in as possible.
SARA is a Registered Charity CIO, number 1193634 (Charity no 505504 prior to 31 Dec 2021).
What is SARA?
SARA is an Inshore Rescue boat and Land Search organisation covering the Severn and Wye Valleys, with stations at Wyre Forest, Tewkesbury, Gloucester, Sharpness, Newport and Beachley.