Wiltshire Search and Rescue benefits from £20,000 of funding from SSEN

4x4 search and rescue vehicle with group of volunteers

Image above shows the 4x4, part-funded by SSEN, and just some of the Wiltshire Search and Rescue volunteers who will use the specially equipped vehicle.

As Wiltshire Search and Rescue (WilSAR) reflects on one of its busiest year on record, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) is proud to have been able to assist their endeavours through funding to enable them to purchase their newest 4x4 vehicle.

Last year, Wiltshire Search and Rescue’s 75-strong team of volunteers gave over 28,500 hours of their time, during 62 call-outs, where they supported Wiltshire Police and the emergency services in finding, rescuing and treating missing and vulnerable people across the county.

To enable this type of specialised life-saving work, the team require suitable 4x4 vehicles and equipment, and SSEN has helped them to buy their latest vehicle with a £20,000 award from its Resilient Communities Fund.

To date, SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund has provided nearly £1.6 million of funding to 216 projects. Individual funding is awarded to projects demonstrating how their communities will be enhanced by improving the welfare of those most vulnerable, expanding community facilities and supplying life-saving equipment, with decisions on the awards being made by a panel of representatives from the Environment Agency, Citizens Advice and National Energy Action.

Along with donations from Clothworker’s Foundation, Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme, Green Hall Foundation and monies raised in memory of Rob Dunn who went missing in 2019, SSEN’s £20,000 helped the volunteer organisation reach the £50,000 needed to buy and equip the professionally kitted out 4x4, and will also fund off-road driving qualifications for a number of members of the team to ensure they have the right training across difficult terrain.

SSEN’s Community Investment Manager Gareth Shields said: “SSEN is pleased to see the Resilient Communities Fund put to such good use. What is striking about organisations such as Wiltshire Search and Rescue is the number of skilled volunteers and their dedication to the task.

“Through the award for a new support vehicle in 2018 and this most recent award for a 4x4 in 2019, we hope that the assistance they have received has contributed towards their ability to carry out their life-saving search and rescue operations, assisting people in times of emergency.”

Adrian Sawyer, chair of Wiltshire Search and Rescue, said: “We are proud of the volunteering that we do and 2019 saw some challenging, emotional and rewarding searches for our team and this new 4x4 allows us to be even more responsive over rough ground and in the very rural and isolated parts of the county that we are often called to.

“We are also so grateful for everyone who has given £1 or £10,000 towards the cause. Fundraising is as vital as our search work because it is what keeps us able to help when our community needs us most and it has been a long process of planning, fundraising, procuring and now kitting out the vehicle. It’s testament to the hard work of many of the team that we can finally unveil the new vehicle.”

WilSAR has chosen to name the vehicle ‘Rob’ after over £2,000 was raised for the project by the communities in and around Marlborough in memory of Rob Dunn.

Adrian added: “Rob went missing in Savernake forest in June 2019, and was sadly located deceased after a seven day search by multiple Search and Rescue teams. He was an adventurous individual who regularly went on exciting trips to far flung places, so it is very fitting that his namesake will also be doing the same.”

In its latest round of annual grants – distributed in autumn 2019 - SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund (RCF) has awarded over £185,000 to the successful applicants across its south network area. 

This most recent round of funding is the first where support has been extended to projects which achieve one of the following criteria:    

  • Vulnerability – to protect the welfare of vulnerable community members through enhancing their resilience and improving community participation and effectiveness.
  • Resilience for Emergency Events – to enhance community facilities, services and communication specifically to support the local response in the event of a significant emergency event.

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. SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund will re-open for applications in the spring of 2020. Guidelines and applications forms are available on SSEN’s website: www.ssen.co.uk/RCF/England/ with a full report on the fund available here - https://www.ssen.co.uk/RCF/.

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.