VOLUNTEERS who assist Devon’s emergency services when people go missing or become injured in remote locations have been overwhelmed by the public’s response to a fundraising campaign.
Members of the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team Ashburton just managed to get their essential control van through its last MoT earlier this year but realised a new one would be needed if their lifesaving work was to continue into 2016 and beyond.
An appeal for help went out at the end of June with a target of £20,000 that would allow them to buy the base vehicle. But just a little more than month later and the fund has topped the £34,000 mark.
The team’s delighted fundraising officer Alan Pewsey said:
‘We simply cannot believe how generous people have been and how quickly they’ve responded to our appeal.
‘In the first place we’re so grateful to the press who publicised our appeal as widely as they did because thanks to them the calls soon started coming in.
‘More than £1,000 was pledged very quickly and then one lady in south Devon contacted us and incredibly offered to donate £20,000 in memory of her late husband.
‘We were only just starting to get over the shock of that when the Newton Abbot Hospital League of Friends said they’d like to pledge a further £10,000, we simply couldn’t believe it.
‘With £34,000 in the fund we can not only get the van but equip it too with all the communications, medical and survival kit needed when searching for lost or vulnerable people.
‘We respond to about 35 shouts a year on average, any time and anywhere we’re needed, not just on Dartmoor but across Devon including urban areas such as Torbay and Exeter, and our entire operation is funded by the public’s generosity.
‘It costs us about £15,000 to keep going for a year and we’re always very grateful for the support people give us. ‘But the response to this appeal has been unparalleled and we offer our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has helped.
‘Even Toby at Pottery Commercials in Newton Abbot has been very generous to us in finding a virtually brand new van at a huge discount and fitting extras free of charge.
‘We can’t wait to show off it off as soon as it’s on the road and ready for action.
‘Again, thank you so very much. Sadly our work never ends but then neither do the bills stop coming in.’