A reflection on a year like no other

A reflection on a year like no other

Volunteers from West Cornwall Search and Rescue Team (WCSAR) have been reflecting on the highs and lows of 2020. The forty men and women who provide inland search and rescue cover across the TR postcodes of Cornwall, are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

But although the volunteers train for all eventualities, even they were unprepared for what 2020 had in store, as Deputy Team Leader, Rick Swan, explains.

“We had to rethink everything; how we responded to callouts, how we delivered training, how we maintained our vehicles and equipment and even how we raised the funds to keep the charity going. But the hardest part was not being able to get together each week as a team. We are quite a close-knit group, more like a family, and being separated and isolated was certainly difficult for our members.”

Operating as part of the national network of Mountain Rescue teams, WCSAR can be called by the other emergency services to assist in search and rescue operations but is most often tasked by Devon & Cornwall Police to search for missing persons.

“Despite Covid19, the team had a busy year with 29 callouts, ranging from assisting South Western Ambulance Service Trust with medical evacuations from Nine Maidens, Tehidy and Trencrom through to searches in Constantine, Tuckingmill and Botallack and back in March, an animal rescue in Helston,” said Rick.

But Rick isn’t the only member of the Swan household who has had to worry about the impact of Covid19 on the team. Rick’s wife, Becca, is the team treasurer.

“It’s been a difficult year from the point of view of income and finances as we had to cancel almost all our fundraising activities. Fortunately, we received a couple of grants to tide us over and help us cover our £15,000 annual running costs.”

But looking ahead, Becca is cautiously optimistic about the prospects for 2021. “We are a young and dynamic team with big plans for the future and we hope to resume our fundraising in the Spring. In the meantime, we are launching a fundraising pack so that members of the public who want to help raise funds for us in a Covid-safe way have everything they need in one place.”

Our volunteer search team members wouldn’t be able to do what they do without the continued support of their families, often abandoned at short notice, or the generous financial support of our local community. Thank you all and we can only look forward to a better 2021.

Wishing everyone a happy new year!