Long Serving Member Singled for Award by Police & Crime Commissioner

Dave Simmonds was recognised for his service to search and rescue today as one of the Police & Crime Commissioner’s ‘silent stars’.

In a ceremony at the Police and Fire Headquarters in Portishead, Dave was presented with the Pride Award along with 9 other people that have shown real dedication to the community of Avon and Somerset.

Dave Simmonds, far right, with his Pride Award from Sue Mountstevens, Avon & Somerset PCC, seated centre.

PCC Sue Mountstevens said: “I always look forward to the Pride Awards as I get to meet the silent stars that often do not get the recognition they so richly deserve. It is an honour to see the dedication, bravery and hard work of the many people living amongst us and award them for their extraordinary commitments.

“It is always humbling to see the unsung heroes of Avon and Somerset who continually go that extra mile to make their communities safer and stronger. I am proud to say that all of these winners have made a lasting impact on the lives of Avon and Somerset residents and I am grateful to every single one of them for their efforts.”

Dave was one of the founding members 44 years ago of what was to become Avon & Somerset Search and Rescue. In November 2018 Dave retired from operational duties and became a life time member. In his career he has attended thousand’s of callouts and always had time to help new team members.

At the ceremony Dave said, “It’s an honour to be singled out but there are lots of other people in the team who have also served and who have helped me achieve what I have got today.”

To read the full story click here to go to the Avon & Somerset PCC website https://www.avonandsomerset-pcc.gov.uk/News-and-Events/News-Archive/2019/January/PCC-recognises-silent-stars-with-Pride-Award-Ceremony.aspx

Here is Dave’s citation, submitted to help him gain the award:

David ‘The Boy’ Simmonds.

“Dave was probably the youngest member to be founder member of the ‘Avon Rocks Rescue Team’ back in 1974.  He therefore became known – and always has been known as ‘The Boy’.

Bristol City Council had an increasing problem of people self-harming from Clifton Suspension Bridge and surrounding cliffs, and the growing outdoor pursuit use of rock climbing in the Gorge, needed a specialised response.  Dave, stood up and volunteered his services – as a committed youth leader, teacher and outdoor pursuit instructor.

He has been volunteering ever since!  In 1990 the Avon team joined forces with the very similar organisation in Cheddar Gorge – the Cheddar Gorge Rocks Rescue team; and became the Avon and Somerset Search and Rescue Team (ASSAR).  The search and rescue team was adopted by Avon & Somerset Police as their main resource for searching and finding missing people in rough terrain, cliff rescue from gorges and quarries.  This still applies today and the team has added flood and water rescue to its competencies after the flooding incident in Gloucestershire on 2007.

Dave has been active though out this time as a SAR volunteer, always on call – 24/7 365; always happy to respond, day or night when called, to add his expertise and experience to any situation.  Dave has developed considerable skills in diplomacy, welfare coaching of other volunteers as well as the required SAR and first aid skills.

It is difficult to quantify exactly who has benefitted from Dave’s voluntary contribution to the community – he must have attended literally thousands of ‘call outs’ in his 44 year service.  He has saved many lives from those in peril, and he has also returned bodies to grieving family and friends – all essential work, which Dave has always undertaken with a gladness of heart and a ‘can do’ spirit.

Posted on 21 / 01 / 2019

Callout on First Day for new Land Rover Discovery D5

On the first day that Avon & Somerset Search and Rescue had the new Land Rover Discovery D5 it attended a callout. The police were concerned for the welfare of an elderly lady with dementia in the Long Ashton area. Fortunately the lady was located safe and well in nearby Hotwells, Bristol (Saturday 3rd November).

The new Discovery D5 is on loan from Jaguar Land Rover to Mountain Rescue England & Wales. It’s touring the country spending two weeks with each team to test its capabilities.

The team had another callout the next day to help search for a vulnerable missing male near Dundry, he was also found on the edge of Bristol and is now receiving the care he needs.

Avon & Somerset Search and Rescue have had one of their busiest years attending 35 callouts so far and our members have given over 1800hrs of time to these incidents, let alone all the training and fundraising required. The callouts mainly involve searching for vulnerable missing people who may be suicidal or suffering from mental illness, but also involve cliff rescues.

Jim Hardcastle, a member of Avon & Somerset Search and Rescue said, ‘We had only just received the new Discovery D5 when the request for help from the police came. And then another callout the next day. Luckily in both incidents the missing person was located alive, but this is often not the case. As a team we’ve been involved in some very tragic and difficult incidents. As members we have to respond from wherever we are at that time and then may need to access some very difficult locations, so it’s a real test for the Discovery D5, both on and off-road, when it spends time with a search and rescue team.’

The new Discovery D5 pictured with ASSARs Defender on Cheddar Cliff’s.

ASSAR and Discovery D5 on Cheddar Cliffs ASSAR and Discovery D5 on Cheddar Cliffs

Discovery D5 from MREW on a callout

 

Posted on 08 / 11 / 2018

Tesco Award Buys Technical Rescue Kit for ASSAR

We were awarded £4000 from Tesco’s Bags of Help community grant scheme thanks to their customers voting for us.

Bags of Help is run in partnership with environmental charity Groundwork, and sees grants raised from the sale of carrier bags awarded to thousands of local community projects every year. Since launching in 2015, it’s provided more than £40 million to over 9,700 local community projects.

The grant will be used to purchase specialist cliff-face kits in ‘grab-and-go’ bags and helmets that are kept in the team’s technical rescue vehicle.

Chris Thring, Chairmen of ASSAR, said, “We’ve had a busy year for callouts and as you can imagine we get through kit quickly so it’s fantastic that Tesco and their customers have helped like this. Replacing technical rescue kit is expensive and we rely entirely on the generosity of others to help keep this volunteer search and rescue service helping the community.”

Tesco customers get the chance to vote for three different groups each time they shop. Every other month, when votes are collected, three groups in each of Tesco’s regions are awarded funding.

ASSAR Tesco thanks 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ASSAR technical rescue kit ASSAR technical rescue kit ASSAR colour coded technical rescue helmets

Posted on 03 / 09 / 2018

New Ropes for Avon & Somerset Search and Rescue thanks to Cheddar Parish Council

ASSAR, Cheddar Parish Council donation, Cheddar Gorge

Cheddar Parish Council have donated £500 to Avon & Somerset Search and Rescue to help them buy new ropes for their important role in Cheddar Gorge. The gorge has the highest inland cliffs in the country and is a hot-spot for visitors, climbing and sadly suicides.

Avon & Somerset Search and Rescue started in Cheddar Gorge in the 1970s. It is now an emergency service staffed by volunteers who are on-call 24/7, 365 days a year. They search for and rescue people from cliffs and floods and other difficult situations in the countryside typically getting called out over 30 times a year.

Sadly Cheddar Gorge and Avon, along with other cliffs and quarries, are often used by people attempting to commit suicide or where people get stuck. Avon & Somerset Search and Rescue operate alongside the other emergency services to help these people and recover bodies when needed.

Peter Colton and Martin Kay (pictured) from Cheddar Parish Council visited the team in Cheddar Gorge to see the new ropes still on the roll. Steve Rumney, team leader, said, ‘By the nature of our work we have to replace ropes on a very regular basis. The kind donation from Cheddar Parish Council has helped us with getting replacements. They will be kept along with our other specialist rescue equipment in a store room kindly donated by Cheddar Caves for instant access when we need them.’

Posted on 19 / 12 / 2017

Avon & Somerset Search and Rescue bags £4000 from Tesco’s community grant scheme

ASSAR, cliff rescue

Avon & Somerset Search and Rescue bags £4000 from Tesco’s community grant scheme. Image c. Tony McNicol

We are delighted to announce we have bagged £4000 from Tesco’s Bags of Help community grant scheme.

Bags of Help is run in partnership with environmental charity Groundwork, and sees grants raised from the sale of carrier bags awarded to thousands of local community projects every year. Since launching in 2015, it’s provided more than £40 million to over 9,700 local community projects.

Millions of shoppers have voted in Tesco stores up and down the country and it can now be revealed ASSAR has been awarded £4000.

Work will now begin on bringing the project to life.

Avon & Somerset Search and Rescue help people far from help across the area. It is an emergency service staffed by volunteers who are on-call 24/7, 365 days a year. They search for and rescue people from cliffs and floods and other difficult situations in the countryside typically getting called out over 30 times a year. Sadly Avon and Cheddar Gorge, along with other cliffs and quarries, are often used by people attempting to commit suicide or where people get stuck. The grant will be used to purchase specialist cliff-face kits in ‘grab-and-go’ bags that are kept in the team’s technical rescue vehicle.

Chris Thring, Chairmen of ASSAR, said, “Thanks so much to Tesco and all their customers in the Thornbury area. This grant helps us to continue our important work supporting the police with our specialist search and rescue skills. We’re all volunteers and rely entirely on the support of the communities we help to keep us going financially.”

Alec Brown, Tesco’s Head of Community, said:

“Bags of Help has been a fantastic success and we’ve been overwhelmed by the response from customers. It’s such a special scheme because it’s local people who decide how the money will be spent in their community. We can’t wait to see the projects come to life.”

Voting ran in stores throughout September and October with customers choosing which local project they would like to get the top award using a token given to them at the checkout.

Tesco customers get the chance to vote for three different groups each time they shop. Every other month, when votes are collected, three groups in each of Tesco’s regions are awarded funding.

Groundwork’s National Chief Executive, Graham Duxbury, said:

“Bags of Help continues to enable local communities up and down the UK to improve the local spaces and places that matter to them. The diversity of projects that are being funded shows that local communities have a passion to create something great in their area. We are pleased to be able to be a part of the journey and provide support and encouragement to help local communities thrive.”

Funding is available to community groups and charities looking to fund local projects that bring benefits to communities. Anyone can nominate a project and organisations can apply online. To find out more visit www.tesco.com/bagsofhelp.

Posted on 19 / 12 / 2017