Milestone anniversary for Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA) lifeboat charity to be celebrated in Sharpness
THE CHARITY providing the only lifeboat rescue service on Sharpness Canal is celebrating a milestone anniversary year.
The Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA) turns 40 this year, having provided unbroken lifeboat cover on the Severn during this period.
Founded in 1973 with headquarters at Tutshill, near the current Beachley station, SARA became a registered charity in 1976 and purchased its first boat in 1977.
The Sharpness station was opened in 1986 in response to a number of accidents and deaths in the estuary.
Despite their attractive, often-serene appearance, the waters around Sharpness can be lethal.
"These are recognised as some of the most dangerous waters in the UK," explains Geoff Dawe, lifeboat operations manager at Sharpness Station. "In the hot weather the sandbanks look glorious. But the tides here are fast and dramatic and will cut people off in a matter of minutes."
At times the tide rises at an astonishing rate of 3m an hour, devastatingly fast for someone stuck in the mud flats.
The crews are well aware of the importance of what they have achieved at Sharpness over the past 17 years.
"Our lifeboats are the only lifeboats on these waters," said Mr Dawe. "Without us lives would have been lost."
He estimates they make around 40 rescues a year but tragically also recover an average of six bodies a year.
All 300 staff across the charity – including the rescue boat crew, the majority of whom also hold down full-time jobs – are volunteers.
Receiving no government funding, the charity relies entirely on public donations to fund their costly work.
Last year’s purchase of a new, state-of-the-art lifeboat complying with the latest legislation set them back £100,000, while a two-hour callout costs £100 in fuel alone.
The mental cost of the search and rescue work must be borne by the volunteers themselves.
Close friendships help, says Mr Dawe: "The team spirit is absolutely stunning.
"We’ve got a wonderful crew and it is a pleasure to come to the station. They are all in-built with the need to do something to help people."
Sharpness Station is holding its annual open day this Sunday, August 11, from 10.30am to 3.30pm.
The sale of raffle tickets helps purchase vital equipment such as dry suits, life jackets, helmets and radios.
Raffle prizes this year so far include an hour’s flight over the Cotswolds, fine dining vouchers and tickets to family attractions around the area.
For tickets, contact Deryck on 01452 740441 or come in person on the day.
Safety guidance can be found online at www.gloucesterharbourtrustees.org.uk.
Comments are closed on this article.