Wednesday, 16 December 2020

I’ve wanted to be a volunteer for search & rescue since as long as I can remember. Naturally I dismissed this life goal over time believing I no longer could.

But from what started with my 10-Year Mountain with Adaptive Grand Slam in 2018, to becoming a volunteer Adventure Camp youth worker with the Youth Adventure Trust in 2019, which lead to me working with a fantastic expedition company Expeditions Wales, as part of their staff team delivering Duke of Edinburgh Award Expeditions, and since, in 2020 setting up my own Community Interest Company Dream Big Explore, supporting Adventure Beyond Barriers, and if my challenges & mindset have taught me anything, it’s to keep pushing, to find a way, and to Dream Big.

Work hard becuase there’s always a way.

While there's things I can't do, there’ll be things at times all of us can’t do, and I know, there’s most definitely things I can, & that I can do good with it. Doing something I love and helping keep safe those vulnerable in our community & give back is very important to me. And finding with an incredible team around, there’s plenty I can do & make a difference for the better.

My SARA training journey has been my proudest achievement to come out of a tough 2020, and with a few more weeks left on probation, I hope to become operational as land search crew in the near future, with a little water training added ready for flood season.

And as this is me afterall, there is a little Christmas endurance challenge on its way.. Read on.

The Big Night Out in aid of Severn Area Rescue Association - Tewkesbury

As the sun sets on 29th December, myself & fellow SARA Tewkesbury volunteer & filmmaker & photographer David Grange, will begin The Big Night Out. Heading on foot into more than 12 hours of cold, wet, muddy December darkness from rural Tewkesbury into beyond.

We’ll need to keep moving to keep warm & to see the challenge through to sunrise the next morning.

Rules are:

• No sleep
• No support / external assistance
• Stay away from any security of urban areas
• No quitting

As well as flood rescue, Severn Area Rescue Association support the police in missing person searches through rural land & water searches. These can last for hours or days, 365 days of the year.
Searches focus on vulnerable members of our community, including elderly & those suffering dementia, as well as individuals at risk through mental health illness.

Christmas time can be tough for so many & even more so this year. Fear & increased isolation, this winter more than ever our vulnerable communities need support & help from emergency services such as SARA to help keep them safe.

This is going to be a physically & mentally tough challenge to endure through the winter’s night, & I’m sure at times pretty miserable. But for us, a fraction of what many missing persons go through; lost, scared, confused, cold & alone, often poorly dressed for outdoors & unaware of the dangers of being out in the cold dark night, with time vs the elements being critical to their survival.

By building this challenge and putting ourselves in this, we want to share an insight into the life-saving work of SARA, it’s volunteers & those who Severn Area Rescue Association continue to search for to keep safe.

Call out figures are sadly already up on those for 2019, with mental health related searches showing a concerning increase during 2020.

The vital work of my home station and crews and SARA as a whole is only possible thanks to kind donations and charity fundraising. With the effects of 2020 being felt through the charity sector, SARA very much included, as well as increased costs due to critical PPE needs.
All planned fundraising, support events and bucket collections have had to be cancelled for the year, and this has had a significant e
ffect on Tewkesbury station and SARA.

While I distictly remember saying now TWICE, that my next challenge would be one that is both warmer, and drier, the tough times I will have in completing this winter challenge will be every shiver, frozen finger and sore, tired body worth it for this vital cause.

I would be so very grateful of any donation for my Big Night Out challenge, and it will help this volunteer emergency service continue to keep loved ones safe.

Warm thoughts and plenty of motivation will also be very gratefully recieved..

Please click on the link below. 'Warmest' Christmas wishes, Mel. x

Virgin Money Giving - The Big Night out