One of the most understated group of folk I have met. SARDA ( Search and Rescue Dogs)
For many years they worked alone men and women and dog on the mountains searching for lost souls.
As a member of Mountain Rescue I met them all over the UK on some of the huge searches from the 70’s . I was amazed that many driving for hours to support Mountain Rescue Teams. Most slept in their vans arriving in the wee small hours. Grabbing an hour or two of sleep and then out searching! I made many pals over the years and there are some great characters.
When I became a Team Leader I tried to ensure they were looked after and many stayed with us in village halls and we tried to ensure all were safe off the hills after a search. We made sure when we could that you had food and drinks and at least the halls to stay with us if you needed it. Through this we got to know each other so much better.
At Lockerbie in 1988 SARDA came from all over UK to assist the Police and Mountain Rescue teams and many searched for weeks after the tragedy.
They were incredible folk and many still live with what they did during that period! Many of the dogs were effected by the fuel and smoke that they endured over the search.
I made many friends we learned much after that incident and things are a lot better for dogs and handlers. Nowadays they rarely work on their own and had a great system that supports them.
They are a unique body of men an women who have a great safety record and how many owe their lives to their work over the years.
Thank you all for what you do, few know the real stories or the bond you have with your amazing animals.
There are few people that I admire more than you all and follow how your organisations has moved on from Hamish and others ideas over the early days.
Few know how hard the training is to train a search dog and handler.
Few know you outside SAR and you are like all in Mountain Rescue unpaid volunteers.
Few know what you all do for others in trouble not just in the mountains and wild places but other lost souls in a troubled world. This is now a huge part of your work looking for vulnerable people.
I have always admired you all and made so many great friends in all the organisations over the years.
Yet it was your work at Lockerbie and in some of the wildest call – outs in my 40 years in Mountain Rescue that give me a great love for your organisation. I was always glad when you were all safely off the hills. I would arrive with the RAF Teams often after a 3 – 4 hour drive and find your folk
already there or on the hill. These were the days of poor communications and it was hard to keep in touch with hill parties.
Thank you for all you do and I hope I can spread what you have done on my “Cycle to Syracuse in the USA” in late October.
Sorry if I have missed any of the SARDA organisations out? But you know who you all are.
It was great that one of the handlers was at the Castle with me on Saturday after my cycle to Edinburgh in wild weather.
None of us do this for personal gain or praise but I was so proud to have been there with SARDA member.
On the mountains and in bad times you meet folk that you make a huge impression on you.
Few know what you do you most of you shun publicity and train so hard. Your Dogs are a huge part of you a unique force for good.
We all owe you so much.
Thank you .
Stay safe this winter and thanks for all you did for me and my family when my sisters nephews were missing last winter. It was comforting to know that SARDA and the Mountain Rescue were out looking for them and in the end brought them home to the family.
Heavy Whalley Ex RAF Deputy Team Leader RAF Valley North Wales MRT Team Leader RAF Leuchars and Kinloss Scotland.