SSEN funding helps WilSAR welcome Wilfred to its team

Boy and dad with rescue van

Seven-year-old Harry - who came up with the winning name, Wilfred - and his dad pose proudly with WilSAR's new search and rescue vehicle. 

Wiltshire Search and Rescue (WilSAR) is welcoming a new addition to its team, thanks to funding from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) and Wiltshire Community Foundation.

After an appeal to the public, WilSAR has announce its newest recruit is Wilfred; a new Incident Support Vehicle which will act as the vital control room during searches for vulnerable and missing people.

The vehicle was purchased and kitted out after SSEN awarded £10,000 from its Resilient Communities Fund, with Wiltshire Community Foundation donating a further £7,000 made up of money from the High Sheriff of Wiltshire’s endowment fund and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Grant Fund. As the vehicle is considered a vital part of the team, WilSAR asked the local community to come up with a name that would make the vehicle instantly recognisable as it carried out operations across Wiltshire and surrounding counties.

After much deliberation, the winning name of Wilfred - which will be displayed on the vehicle - was chosen by a panel made up of representatives from Wiltshire Search and Rescue, Wiltshire Police, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, South Western Ambulance Service and members of the local community.

Gareth Shields, Community Investment Manager for SSEN, said: “This is such a great example of how the Resilient Communities Fund can be used to help to boost the vital work that Wiltshire Search and Rescue does and to include the community in that work. We can already see that Wilfred is going to be a valued member of the team and hope that his services will benefit Wiltshire and the surrounding areas for many years to come.

Sarah Wolf from Wiltshire Search and Rescue added: “Every penny we need to conduct our vital work has to be fundraised, so grants like this that allow us to make big purchases are invaluable. Our new vehicle has already been used multiple times in our searches for vulnerable and missing people. 

“Holding the competition to find a name has been great for a bit of community engagement and it’s lovely to see so many people across Wiltshire getting involved. The winning name of Wilfred will be proudly displayed for all to see.” 

Set up in 2014 as a two-year pilot scheme, SSEN has pledged to extend the fund to 2023 using a proportion of the income it receives from the industry regulator Ofgem in relation to its stakeholder engagement performance.

In addition to the Resilient Communities Fund, SSEN has been working closely with local communities in the south east of England, helping them create resilience plans for emergencies, such as adverse weather and possible power disruption during winter storms.

Guidelines and applications forms are available on SSEN’s website: with a full report on the fund available here -

Funds for the next round of applications in central southern England are now open, with the closing date for applications is 17 May 2019. Decisions on awards to be made by September 2019.