Meet Cheshire Search and Rescue (CSAR) – ordinary men and women going to extraordinary lengths in their free time to help find missing people.
‘Professional in all but pay’, these highly-trained and dedicated volunteers come from all walks of life.
The team comprises an accountant, a roofer, an HGV driver, a teacher, physicist, chef, air accident investigator and current and former police officers, and has around 50-60 members at any time.
On-call 24/7, 356 days a year, members gave up a staggering 15,556 hours of their time in 2015.
Forty-two of them were on the ground searching for teenager Kizzy Whitehurst, who had gone missing from her home in Little Budworth, last week.
CSAR was among 16 search and rescue teams which assisted Cheshire Constabulary’s successful operation to find the 14-year-old.
Team leader Simon Lane praised the cooperation between all the agencies involved.
“The atmosphere, cooperation and mutual respect between all teams was evident and greatly added to the effectiveness of the search," he said.
“To have such a positive outcome with Kizzy found safe and well was testament to the professionalism and dedication of all the teams, most of whom are volunteers.
'We are on hand to assist'
“When someone of any age goes missing, it’s a desperately worrying time for their family and we hope that by reporting the success of this operation, it will provide some comfort to anyone affected in the future, knowing that we are on hand to assist the police and draw on the support of the wider SAR community when needed.
“We’d like to thank all the teams for their response to our request for assistance and their professionalism on the ground.”
Rachel Smith, a CSAR trustee, explained that all members are trained Search Technicians – a national standard for searching – and receive training in areas such as managing confrontational situations, crime scene preservation and mental health behaviour patterns.
Predominantly called out to search for vulnerable missing people, CSAR covers the whole county – all 904 square miles of it which includes mountains, forests, waterways, rural and urban areas.
It is a self-funded organisation which receives no funding from central government and relies entirely on members’ monthly fees of £10 and fundraising initiatives – upcoming events include the Northwich Festival of Running, Northwich Community Weekend and the Delamere Commando Trail.
For more information about CSAR, click here.