Since 2008, I have been a supporter of this amazing charity, CamSAR.
My roles included Search Technician, Fundraising Coordinator, Welfare Officer, Website and newsletter editor, Incident Support Technician.
In 2013, I stepped away as I finally realised I might have been doing too much, though CamSAR still remained close to my heart.
Why I joined the team
At the time I joined the team, my life had undergone a massive upheaval. It was fairly unrecognisable from what it had been just six months before. Health, relationship, home and work had all changed and I was feeling more than a little lost.
Rather than dwell, I wanted to volunteer my spare time to something constructive.
Listening to local radio one evening, I heard one of the radio presenters interviewing the then Chair of Cambridgeshire Search and Rescue.
The team were looking for people who felt they had something to give to support their newly created rescue team. Being someone who works in IT, I felt I should have something to offer and so I made contact.
Finding the team
So began a rather hilarious evening of trying to find the CamSAR premises.
Despite clear instructions, I couldn’t find the team’s HQ. I had friends looking online for me. Other friends looking on maps for me. Eventually one of them hacked into my email to find the contact details I had neglected to take with me. (This was before we had Smartphones).
Eventually, I found them. You can imagine the ribbing I received. A perspective search technician who couldn’t find the team!
But find them I did and a lovely bunch of people they are. From all sorts of backgrounds. I met ex-police officers, ex-army personnel and ambulance technicians. Rubbing shoulders with office workers, self-employed and the retired. All with one common goal. To help find missing, vulnerable people.
Camaraderie, or as the Aussie’s call it “mateship” is the central key to CamSAR. At a time when I felt alone and adrift in my personal life, CamSAR gave me purpose. But more than that. I believe had I not found CamSAR, the CamSAR might well have been out looking for me.
Who are CamSAR
In a nutshell, CamSAR is the Lowland Rescue unit covering Cambridgeshire. Often assisting sister teams in the wider region, they are a specialist team, called upon by Police in the search for vulnerable missing people.
This could be a child, an elderly person living with dementia or even someone who is considering taking their own life. In each case, and many others, an emergency response is vital.
The team is made up of fully trained Search Technicians, Team Leaders, Search Planners, Operations Managers and Search Managers. They turn out at all hours of the day and night to respond to the missing person’s emergency.
Though fully trained to national standards, every one of these marvellous people are volunteers, who dedicate a good proportion of their spare time training or conducting live searches in the local area.
As I write this, we are in the grips of the Covid-19 lockdown. The team have had volunteers out every day collecting and delivering food parcels and PPE across the county. And this on top of attending the usual search callouts, and for some, still holding down full time jobs.