Royal Visit to Cheddar Gorge

Members of ASSAR were presented to Edward and Sophie, the Earl and Countess of Wessex today in Cheddar Gorge. ASSAR were given the chance to explain their technical rescue role in the gorge for climbers and tourist and their wider search and rescue role in Avon and Somerset. Duncan Massey, ASSARs Chairman accompanied the royal party on an open top bus through the gorge with Martin Crocker, local climbing champion and BMC rep, who has helped climbing stay an integral part of the gorge.

Earl and Countess of Wessex visiting Cheddar Gorge today.

Earl and Countess of Wessex visiting Cheddar Gorge and Caves today.

ASSAR_Viscount Weymouth

Bob Montgomery, Chief Executive of Longleat, Viscount Weymouth and Viscountess Weymouth meet ASSAR Chairman Duncan Massey at Cheddar Gorge today.

Posted on 09 / 06 / 2014

Family Fundraising

The parents of Shaun Pearce recently held a fundraising dinner dance to help ASSAR as a thanks for saving him. Shaun Pearce was helped by ASSARs co-responder when he was trapped under a tractor with life-threatening injuries near the Chew Valley Lake.

Tony and Helen Court, Shaun’s parents, have run ‘fund raisers’ on behalf of the team. This year they held a ‘dinner dance’ in Shipham village hall, which wasASSAR fundraising hugely successful. The dinner dance was attended by five team members. A total of approximately £2000 was raised, the funds being shared with the Alzheimer’s society.

All members of ASSAR are extremely grateful for this fundraising effort and are pleased Shaun is well again.

Posted on 09 / 06 / 2014

ASSAR assist with technical rescue from Wells Cathedral

ASSAR was called today to assist with the technical rescue of a woman who had fallen and become trapped on the roof of Wells Cathedral. Full callout details are here. This image was taken by a member of ASSAR showing RAF Seaking 169 winching the injured woman to safety.

RAF Seaking above Wells Cathedral during the rescue of a trapped woman. Image courtesy: Alan George.

Posted on 29 / 04 / 2014

Swiftwater and Flood Rescue Technicians

For the past two weekends members of ASSAR have been training hard to gain their Swiftwater and Flood Rescue Technician status, for some this was a re-certification. We are pleased to announce that all passed.

The course covers a wide range of awareness and practical techniques including the following;

  • swiftwater swimming techniques
  • tethered rescues
  • rope anchor systems
  • tensioned rope techniques
  • river and flood area search

Members of the team visited the National White Water Centre in North Wales to learn and practice the swiftwater techniques while staying in the North Somerset area for the rest. Our thanks to Mendip Outdoor Pursuits and Swallet Farm for providing the training venues.

The course is provided and certified by Rescue 3 Europe who are internationally recognised and form the core training for rescue teams and emergency services around the world. In the UK this particular course forms part of the Defra Flood Rescue Concept of Operations, follow this link to view the document

ASSARs Team Leader is a qualified Rescue 3 instructor, leading to a high level of understanding and awareness amongst the team, alongside the operational experience.

ASSAR Swiftwater Rescue Technicians

ASSAR Swiftwater Rescue Technicians

Posted on 14 / 04 / 2014

Navigation Awards

The great outdoors can be explored freely and safely when you know where you are, where you are going and how you’ll get there. Good navigation skills are important for enjoying any area of the countryside from urban fringe to mountains. Excellent navigation skills are crucial for members of search and rescue teams.

Each search party will have an allocated navigator but all members are expected to be able to navigate to a competent level. ASSAR members have adopted the National Navigational Award Scheme as a standard competency level. Several ASSAR members achieved their silver awards recently with other members and aspirants working towards their certification. Our thanks to ASSARs navigation trainers for organising the assessments.

ASSAR navigation assessment while enduring hail, sleet and snow around Mendip.

ASSAR navigation assessment while enduring hail, sleet and snow around Mendip.

The Silver award syllabus is as follows:

  • Devise a strategy for a navigational stage, to break it down into ‘coarse’ and ‘fine’ navigation and to use clear features en route to check that you are ‘on course’.
  • Understand and apply the following components of a navigational strategy ‘aiming off’, ‘attack points’, ‘collecting features’, simplifying navigation, and apply them in varying terrain.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of contour features, both large and small, on the map and on the ground.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the navigation physical and factors affecting route choice.
  • Judge distance accurately on the map and on the ground.
  • Plan a safe walk or route involving Silver award skills and strategies.
  • Employ simple relocation strategies when lost.
  • Use a compass to follow accurate bearings and to check the direction of footpaths or other linear features on both map and ground.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the effects of fatigue and physical discomfort brought on by navigating in demanding countryside and/or extreme weather condition. Knowledge of basic first aid is also expected.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and application of the Countryside Code and current access legislation as for the Bronze level together with an appreciation of basic environmental factors in mixing ‘man with nature’ (e.g. footpath erosion and methods of dealing with it), and responsibilities towards other countryside interests like farming, forestry and conservation.

For more details visit the National Navigation Award Scheme website.

Posted on 10 / 02 / 2014

ASSAR Receives Donation from Incredible Fundraiser

ASSAR was privileged to receive a cheque from a very special fundraiser. Sarah Williams from has setSarah Williams, Smiling Eyes Internationalherself the challenge of completing 150 tasks to raise £150 for 150 different charities! To make this an even more incredible achievement Sarah is almost blind.

Sarah went white water rafting in Brecon, Wales to raise £150 which she very kindly donated to ASSAR. We will be using this money to help buy a flood raft to help with water rescues. Everyone in ASSAR would like to extend their thanks to Sarah and wish her well in her fundraising efforts.

Posted on 20 / 01 / 2014

No selection weekend in 2014

To allow the team to focus on training the existing new recruits and develop specialist skills of team members there will be no selection weekend for ASSAR in 2014.

Currently there are approximately a dozen new trainees and ‘aspirant’ members, the next level up, working through their core competency skills. The training team within ASSAR want to focus on the progression of these individuals this year before taking on anymore new recruits.

ASSAR also wants to ensure existing team members have the appropriate skills for the increasing number of water based search and rescue callouts.

Both of these issues place a high demand on all the volunteers in ASSAR. Another selection weekend will be organised for 2015. If you would like to apply please email

Posted on 19 / 12 / 2013

Members of both Houses of Parliament supportive of Mountain Rescue funding campaign

Representatives of mountain and cave rescue teams from across England and Wales were in Parliament last week and met with over 80 MPs and members of the House of Lords during that time.Mountain Rescue looking across River Thames at Parliament, London.

David Allen is the Chairman of Mountain Rescue England and Wales (MREW): “We focused on two key messages: the breadth of what we are asked to do and the funding gap with similar services,” he said. “We were encouraged by the level of interest, the obvious support and the understanding of our current status as volunteers providing a vital service. We now need to clarify the next steps in our campaign to achieve regular and significant funding from central government.”

The exhibition ran in the Upper Waiting Hall in the Palace of Westminster from Monday to Friday and a Reception, sponsored by Penrith and the Border MP and leader of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Rescue Services, Rory Stewart OBE MP, was held on Tuesday night (29 October) and attracted about 50 people from both Houses.

“I believe that this was an important event for Parliament because mountain rescue represents one of the very solid examples in the country of volunteers, people unpaid doing something which is completely vital to the public interest,” said Rory Stewart. “For Parliament to concentrate on that and to get nearly fifty MPs in a reception, meeting mountain rescue people, I think it is going to be very important in changing perceptions of what volunteers do for us in society.”

Avon & Somerset Search and Rescue were called out 31 times in the last 12 months, as a team spending a total of 1670 volunteer hours searching for and rescuing people. The average callout lasts 5hours. The majority were land searches followed by cliff and water rescues.

Rory Stewart had invited the Prime Minister, David Cameron to attend the Reception and, although unable to do so, he wrote in reply and commented that: “The work carried out by the volunteers and everyone involved in this service is immensely worthy of praise and recognition.”

Andrew Bingham, MP for High Peak and based in Buxton, attended the reception: “It was great to be there to support the mountain rescue because they do such a fantastic job across the whole of the High Peak area.  They really are the extra emergency service that not only residents rely on but also all the visitors that we get across Kinder. Without the mountain rescue, we really would be struggling.”

David Amess, MP for Southend West, also attended the exhibition and spoke to members of MREW: “I thoroughly admire the courage, dedication and commitment of the rescue service in assisting desperate people in the mountains. It is important to acknowledge how they put their lives at risk for the safety of others,” he added.

“Volunteer rescuers, about 3,600 of them in England and Wales, are available 24/7 throughout the year for local call outs,” said MREW Head of Fundraising, Mike France, “and they have to train for many different situations and needs. So it seems crazy that they also have to find time for fundraising just to keep their Teams going and we’re hoping that the week’s discussions in Westminster will have shown MPs the huge discrepancy between the financial support given by government to Scottish rescuers – about £16,480 per team – and the much more limited funding to English teams of just £2,246 per team.”

“If government could guarantee a level of funding from the public purse closer to the Scottish figure, we’d be able to underwrite investments in vehicles and essential kit and subsidise essential training and insurance and our volunteer rescuers would be able to focus on getting the job done rather than having to worry about money.”

“We had great support last week from the MPs local to our rescue teams and representing the key areas for our more obvious work,” said David Allen, “and the Reception enabled us to extend this knowledge and support throughout Parliament. We will continue to work with Rory and the APPG to move this campaign on and explore the options for future funding.”

Posted on 08 / 11 / 2013

Mountain Rescue at the Houses of Parliament

Next week there’s an exhibition at the Houses of Parliament organised by Mountain Rescue England and Wales, I’ve let all the MP’s in our area know why they should stop by and find out more about how mountain rescue teams have changed and why they need supporting.
In our area for example;
  • 85% of our callouts involve searching for and rescuing despondents, people with mental problems and the elderly who may have walked away from care homes.
  • Avon & Somerset has the highest inland cliffs in the country at Cheddar Gorge and a suicide hotspot in Avon Gorge plus numerous quarries and mines all requiring a specialist technical response beyond the capability of the Fire & Rescue Service.
  • With the increase in flooding incidents our bankside search and rescue techniques and swiftwater rescue capability has been called on regularly.
  • We are Avon & Somerset Police’s chosen search and rescue partner available 24/7, 365 days a year, staffed entirely by volunteers.

Avon & Somerset Search and Rescue_searching_woods

Posted on 23 / 10 / 2013

Selection Weekend 28-29/9/2013

We have another selection weekend this September due to increased interest. The selection weekend will take place on 28-29 September near Bristol. If you would like to try and join the team please email the address below. The weekend includes talks, practical sessions and training, a night navigation course and a search & rescue exercise.

Details have been sent out to nearly 30 individuals but it’s not too late to receive details. We’re not looking for any specific skills but are expecting you to be comfortable for prolonged periods outdoors, reasonably fit as most call-outs last over 2 hours, are calm and able to fit in with a close knit team.

If you would like to receive details please email

Posted on 14 / 07 / 2013