Sussex Search and Rescue – one big family

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This month’s guest blog is written by Nick Rewcastle, Secretary for Sussex Search and Rescue – a volunteer organisation utilised by Sussex Police to help search for, and rescue, missing people. Read on for a fascinating insight into what it’s like to be a part of this invaluable charity. 

When my (now) wife told me about the volunteering work she does – I couldn’t believe how she managed to fit that into her busy life, with a full time job. But it didn’t take me long to join the team, and I haven’t looked back.

Since I joined Sussex Search and Rescue over two years ago, my wife Hannah and I have got married, bought a house, both had promotions at work and spend a lot of our time volunteering for Sussex Search and Rescue. We also have three cats!

Sussex Search & Rescue (SusSAR) is the primary volunteer resource used by Sussex Police to search for, and rescue, vulnerable missing people. SusSAR is on call 24 hours every day throughout the year. As a 100% volunteer organisation, we give our time free of charge and expect nothing in return but satisfaction from a job well done. SusSAR exists to serve the community of Sussex through the goodwill of its members and charitable donations.

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We can be called out by Sussex Police or by Search & Rescue Teams in other counties requesting our assistance at any time. We are both Search Technicians, but also have committee roles, with Hannah as Fundraising Officer and myself as a trustee of the charity, as Secretary.

We don’t have a lot of time for doing much else, but that doesn’t matter to us because we love what we do. We help to save lives and support with the day-to-day running of a truly vital resource to Sussex Police.

As a self-funded unit with no government funding, Sussex Search and Rescue is continually on the lookout for funds in the form of donations and grants, as well as any opportunities to raise funds, such as support for events, mainly in the form of marshalling at large sporting or community events. SusSAR also regularly partakes in ‘bucket shakes’ outside supermarkets, shops or in high-streets as an alternative means for raising funds. Hannah keeps herself busy with the fundamental task of raising those essential funds. And she does a cracking effort. I deal with the more admin side of the team, across all elements of the charity – some more exciting than others!

We often find ourselves coming home from work and having to answer emails, or spend a few hours on a Sunday catching up on work that needs doing. If we’re not on laptops, at meetings or training sessions then we are managing fundraising events. But we don’t complain. We do it together, we enjoy it, and SusSAR is our family.

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Part of why we all get along so well is that we all share the same passion – Search and Rescue. And many of us enjoy the kit we use and spend hours talking about why these boots are the best, and why these trousers are more waterproof…and don’t get me started on the torches! We face tough conditions, and are out searching for hours in the pouring rain, mud or snow, or even scorching heat – so having the right kit is vital for us. We have to be prepared to search for up to eight hours at a time, and ensure there is enough to keep us going.

As a unit, in the field we operate in, we come across some challenging situations and it’s key that we stick together and support each other. We do that well. We are a team of over 60 members, we are all friends despite the wide age range and most importantly, are a family of volunteers helping those that need us the most.

If you are able to support Sussex Search and Rescue, or for more information, please contact secretary@sussar.org

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