Search Dogs at RAF Kinloss any one remember?

I have been asked to help as SARDA are trying to find out where a few old dog handlers who were in RAF MR at RAF Kinloss are and I need a contact for SARDA. Can you help?

2009 SARDA Annual_assessment_2009

2009 SARDA Annual_assessment_2009

“Hi, hope you are well. Wonder if you can help. Trying to track down ex-dog handlers from long time ago. Did you know an A Ward 1969  – sorry no first name. I have him on a list as being Kinloss dogs name Harri.” Thanks


Bob Gray – 1976  – Sheba ?

Bob Gray left and Sheba ? with Dixie in sheepskin!

Bob Gray left and Sheba ? with Dixie in sheepskin!

Other potential team members – Bob Gray(1976), G H Jacobs (1970). Don’t worry, still trying to see if we can get in touch with them. Can anyone help?

Alaister Haveron  and his first Dog was Dreish may be able to help?

1980 Dreish ; Heavy Ben Lui callout.

1980 Dreish ; Heavy Ben Lui callout.

Welcome to Search & Rescue Dog Association Scotland

SARDA - 1965 to 2015Burns Pet NutritionScottish Mountain Rescue Order of St John

We are a charity organisation which trains dogs and their handlers to search for missing persons. We cover all of Scotland, 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the Search and Rescue Dog Association (SARDA).  As part of SARDA Scotland’s celebrations we will meet some of the dog handlers who have contributed to saving lives in the Scottish mountains. SARDA relys on donations please have look on their websites and donate.

2006 Bracken Sneachda

Bracken sadly missed.

Search Dogs  were a great part of my life amazing people who usually worked alone in the wildest of weather, I owe them so much, so many are now gone but what tales/ tails we have of them.

SARDA – I wrote this a few years ago for abook about SARDA  do as you wish change/ rewrite as you see fit. The book is a great addition and well overdue well done to you both.

I have been involved with Mountain Rescue for nearly 40 years mostly with the RAF Mountain Rescue Service where I served in Wales and Scotland. I also worked as a Controller at the Rescue Centre at RAF Kinloss in Scotland for the last 4 years. I feel this gave me a unique view of SARDA both from the hill and from a coordinators point of view.

In my early years on some of the huge callouts in the early 70’s I was so impressed that SARDA would arrive and work alone in some of the wildest conditions possible. There were so many characters and to a young lad they seemed from another world. While we had the security of a small team on the hill, looking after each other, SARDA handlers would appear on searches in some of the most incredible hazardous places and I got to know them well.

I eventually became a Team Leader and one of my missions was to look after SARDA when they like the RAF Teams travelled far from home on the big searches. Many times we had several dogs and their handlers staying with us for several days and I feel we built up a great bond built on mutual trust. It was also such a great asset to have the SARDA Dogs nearby when we were working in remote and extremely high avalanche conditions.

I have seen what SARDA have achieved over the years and marvelled at the harmony of a dog and handler working a corrie or cliff in wild conditions. To me they are an incredible asset for Rescue in UK and beyond and the famous quote of “a good dog is worth 20 men is so true”

Dec 1965 - Search in Cairngorms

Dec 1965 – Search in Cairngorms

It was at Lockerbie where many SARDA dogs were used for weeks after the tragedy and this unsung work has never been recognised. Many of the handlers and dogs suffered from PTSD and many handlers still bare the scars as this was an exceptional tragedy and affected them badly. Things hopefully area a lot different and the training and experience of SARDA is now outstanding.



SARDA is a unique organisation made up of exceptional men and women, where we in Britain never salute our real heroes. SARDA is full of such characters many that quietly go about their incredible work saving so many lives not only in the mountains, but now on all types of searches in urban terrain. They are rightly recognised as an exceptional rescue asset. How good the early pioneers of SARDA in the UK must feel to see how this organisation has grown from strength to strength.

As in other walks of life the dedication of SARDA is hardly noticed but it is their families who bare the brunt of yet another callout. How many birthdays have Dad and Mums missed for the family when they are called away in the middle of the night. They always respond, they have a sense of duty and  such a care for their fellow man or woman.

I am sure this book will give the public and insight into another world where man and dog become as one on a search. It has been a great privilege to work with SARDA over the years.

SARDA  – many thanks for the privilege of working with you all over the year’s.

Search Dogs

Search Dogs


LOVE em or hate em, there s no getting away from the fact that dogs have one very large asset that no human goes anywhere near matching a very big nose! This alone has ensured that dogs play a vital role within mountain rescue in the UK. Laced with a myriad of fascinating photographs and doggie tales , historical and contemporary, this book cannot fail to educate and inspire all who enjoy the great outdoors – Heather Morning MA. Handler, SARDA Scotland and Mountain Safety Adviser with the Mountaineering Council of Scotland. A unique insight into the work of search dogs, this book provides a comprehensive, in-depth guide to the history and development of search and rescue dogs and the heroic work undertaken by the handlers within mountain and lowland rescue. Training and working a search dog is a labour of love for volunteers, which at times can offer the most rewarding conclusion with the saving of life in extreme conditions. As a complete source of information about working search dogs, combined with numerous stories of real incidents and a touch of humour, this book is a must.

Some replies

Al Haveron replied – “Dreish qualified as a SARDA dog in 74 and won the Madras Trophy as the best novice dog that year. I don’t think Bob Gray’s dog ever qualified. Barry a civilian  ( Hartshorne) that came out with the team, his dog qualified at the same time as Dreish. I will try and scan an article by Tom Weir from The Scots Magazine, June 74 about SARDA. Dreish gets a mentioned.”

Dave Gerrard “Rebel qualified in 1976 he was given to me off Kenny Mackenzie a year before. He qualified for the B award year later. I was at JSMTC at that time. We were inviloved in many searches Glen Doll was the one that stands out (biggest airlift of dogs and searchers) and just beating Suds to a casualty one night above the water slide. He lived till 15 I still miss him.”

Tom MacDonald ” Davey Sharpe’s (Civy on the team) dog was a qualified SARDA dog – on the team early 70’s”

Jimmy Simpson SARDA RIP.

Jimmy Simpson SARDA RIP.


About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Friends, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, SAR, Views Mountaineering. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Search Dogs at RAF Kinloss any one remember?

  1. Ken Ross says:

    Hi Heavey,

    Don’t know if Barry Hartshorne’s dog Ben every entered training when he was going out with Kinloss MRT.

    I do recall having a training day for Ben when he was a young dog. Barry, Bob Wilson and I were over in Coirie an Lochan in early spring back in the early 70s?. I buried Bob in an icy trench after Ben & Barry had moved off a good km and out of sight. Having made sure Bob was well buried I went off to find Ben and Barry. Barry then encouraged Ben to find Bob. Alas it was without much luck as Barry had worked him hard earlier.

    After about 45 minutes we had to go and dig Bob out from his icy grave and apart from somewhat blue all he did was curse poor Ben! We made Barry but the pints!
    Ken R

    Liked by 1 person

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