Why did you join SARA? I joined SARA in 2001 following a catch up with a friend who I used to volunteer with at St Johns Ambulance. He had joined SARA and thought it would be right up my street! I have been around the water and boats since I was a child – originally living just outside Bristol (down the road from Royal Portbury Docks) and my father had a lot of friends in the maritime industry. So, I very often found myself on boats, ships, in the Dock control room or zipping out on the Channel Pilot cutter. The love of boats never left me, to be honest – it was a natural move to join the Team!
What unique skills do you bring? I don’t know about unique – but I have extensive Leadership and management experience (especially from within the Emergency Services), but I am really passionate about Leadership, teams and teamwork – supporting people to develop and be the best they can be, both as individuals and collectively.
How have you found the learning process of the new skills required? Whilst having certain previous experience, there is always so much else to learn! New ways of working, news ways of thinking, new ways of acting – let alone the fact that you will seldom travel on the same piece of water twice! The learning environment is great on the team – we all learn from one another, whether it’s a crew member with a specific set of skills delivering the session or we are just training together!
What’s your most memorable experience? I've got 3 that really spring to mind – our response to the floods of 2007 that saw us be the first team called out and the last team to be stood down. We were out and around Worcestershire and Gloucestershire responding for 5 days, sleeping under the desk in our station (then at Arley).
Another memory was me actually being saved by my own crew mates – we were searching a disused canal when I stopped to survey the canal bed with the “bucket-camera”, when I tried to move I realised that I was stuck fast in the mud…and sinking! When the water reached my chin I knew I was now REALLY in trouble! I was relieved to find 3 of my crew mates arriving and hauling me out!
Finally, when we floated Mark Saville’s (Editor of Land Rover Owner International Magazine) prized and much loved Series One Land Rover across the lake at Top Barn (Worcester) using nothing but a lorry tarpaulin…teamwork and knowhow!
What’s the hardest thing you have ever done in SARA? Informing the Crew that one of our Crew members had been tragically killed in a road traffic collision. We now have a rescue boat named after him – SARA-26 “Stuart Frost”.
Why do you continue to volunteer your time to SARA? I strongly believe in being able to support and give back to your community, and I am still very proud to say that the SARA volunteers are among some of the best people I have had the privilege to work with.
How does this fit around your busy life outside of SARA? It’s a challenge for sure, but you can always find time to do what you are passionate about! We understand that we are all volunteers – we all have families and jobs, but we are all oh-so-lucky to have supportive friends, families and employers!
I fervently believe that “Ambition should not be defined as ONE being the best, but by ALL striving to be better” – and work hard to support my crew mates wherever I can. We are a Team – and its one I am proud to be part of!
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.