Wiltshire Search and Rescue volunteers receive personalised thank you letters from Chief Constable, Wiltshire Police

18 April 2018  |  News

Seventeen volunteers from Wiltshire Search and Rescue were sent personalised letters by Kier Pritchard, Chief Constable, Wiltshire Police in recognition of their dedication and commitment to the organisation. The letters thanked the volunteers for their hundreds of hours of service, their important roles in saving the lives of missing people and of their continued hard work in supporting the police when they are called out.

The letters also reference the personal sacrifices that volunteers make on a daily basis, often leaving their friends and family to attend a call out when a vulnerable person goes missing. The letters also mention how much invaluable feedback the team receives from officers within Wiltshire Police, and beyond.

Kier Pritchard, Chief Constable, added, “Please be reassured that this fantastic commitment to Wiltshire Search and Rescue does not go unnoticed by me or the senior command team here at Wiltshire Police.”

In 2017 the team attended 41 incidents and were directly responsible for saving the lives of five people, who, without the emergency medical care that the team is trained to deliver, and if they had not been found in time, would have died.

In order to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the team train for thousands of hours a year in skills such as searching near and on water, medical emergencies and navigation. In total our team gave over 25,000 hours of recorded voluntary time. This total doesn’t include the many hours of awareness-raising, fundraising and personal time given to ensuring the future of the team.

John Needham, Chair of Wiltshire Search and Rescue, added, “The statistics for 2017 show what a vital role we play in supporting the emergency services. Most importantly, vulnerable missing people that we help who need medical attention are given it by our volunteers, specifically trained to do this in an emergency situation. We directly helped to save the lives of five people last year who would have died if they had not been found and given lifesaving treatments by Wiltshire Search and Rescue volunteers.”

 The organisation relies entirely on fundraised income and each member of the team gives their time for free. Local companies who are interested in donating should get in touch via fundraising@wilsar.org.uk.

For press information about Wiltshire Search and Rescue and photographs, please contact Sarah Wolf, PR pr@wilsar.org.uk

Running to save lives

20 February 2018  |  News  | 

Wiltshire Search and Rescue Trainee Andy Hartfield , from Shrewton near Salisbury, will be pounding the pavements and roads of London on 22nd April 2018 for the gruelling 26 miles and 385 yards of the Virgin London Marathon to raise money for two charities close to his heart. This feat is made all the more remarkable by the fact that Andy only took up running in 2017!

Andy will be running the Virgin London Marathon for Wiltshire Search and Rescue and The National Autistic Society. He decided to support these great causes for different reasons, but the two organisations are more linked than you might first imagine.

Wiltshire Search and Rescue is a team of professionally trained volunteers who assist Wiltshire Police in finding missing and vulnerable people. Often these are people in mental health crisis. Many of the missing people that the team is called to support have dementia, learning difficulties or autism.

Andy joined the team as a volunteer in October 2017, quickly becoming an important member of the trainee team. The training is rigorous and serves to equip the volunteers with basic life support skills, technical searching skills and an understanding of lost person behaviour. Andy has also taken part in night navigation exercises, learning to use the equipment the team uses on the water and taking a fitness assessment, which of course he passed with flying colours!

The reasons for joining Wiltshire Search and Rescue are varied for each volunteer but for Andy, it was part of joining in in his community. He adds, “I moved to Wiltshire with my young family in 2017 and I really wanted to learn more about the place so joining a local organisation has given me the opportunity to do something great, meet lots of people and be part of a vitally important team. Wiltshire Search and Rescue volunteers are on call 24/7 and last year were directly responsible for saving two people’s lives.”

Andy Hartfield

Andy is running the London Marathon for us

In 2018, in his mid-40s, Andy was given a positive assessment for Autistic Spectrum Disorder (Asperger Syndrome). He was concerned how little he and others knew about the condition so wanted to do something to raise awareness. It seemed logical therefore to run the Virgin London Marathon for two great causes, splitting the fundraising between them.

Andy says about his diagnosis, “For me the outcome of the identification has been positive relief. The understanding that my heightened anxiety has a rational root has been life-changing. Autism is a condition and not an illness, so I will always be autistic, however, understanding the condition has helped improve my self-awareness and identify potential coping strategies for related issues I encounter on a daily basis”.

Over 99% of people have heard of autism, but only 16% of autistic people feel the public understand them. That’s why The National Autistic Society created the Too Much Information campaign #AutismTMI. The campaign looks to challenge the myths, misconceptions and stereotypes that mean that 79% of autistic people feel socially isolated.

“When I was lucky enough to be chosen to represent Shrewton Running Club in the Marathon I knew I could use my good fortune to raise money for charity. The question was which charity to represent. Fortunately, my wife Amy solved the problem by suggesting I run for both.”

Kate Vickers, Head of Supporter Fundraising at the National Autistic Society, said: “We’re so grateful to Andy for training so hard and for running for us in this year’s Virgin London Marathon.

“There are over 700,000 autistic people in the UK, including children but also adults, plus their three million family members and carers. For all of them we are a vital place to turn. 

“Without inspirational fundraisers like Andy, who are happy to share their personal experiences of autism, we would not be able to achieve our goal to make a world that works for autistic people.”

To support Andy and to donate to his two causes please see below

Wiltshire Search and Rescue: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/andyhartfield

The National Autistic Society:



For press information about Wiltshire Search and Rescue, please call Sarah Wolf, PR 07747 733216 or email pr@wilsar.org.uk

For press information about The National Autistic Society please call Genevieve Heron, PR 02079033545 or email genevieve.heron@nas.org.uk



Cheer for Good

30 November 2017  |  News  |  , , , , ,

Wiltshire Search and Rescue is delighted to be chosen as one of 210 charities around the UK as part of Starbucks Cheer for Good campaign!

We’re going to receive £500 of much needed donated money as a result which we’re really thrilled about. We receive no statutory funding and all our team members are volunteers. We do everything ourselves from fundraising outside supermarkets to applying for local grants, so it’s fantastic to have been chosen.

However, we could turn that £500 into £2,500 with your help! It couldn’t be simpler. The 30 charities out of the 210 who make the most noise on Neighbourly and on Twitter between now and 20th December will win the money. So please do get cheering and help us on our way.

Take a look at our Neighbourly page and comment, like or share our posts.

Hop over to our Twitter page and send us a tweet @wiltshireSAR and use #cheerforgood when you do

Thank you for your support.

CheerForGood_Image Trowbridge fundraising DSC_0053


Saving lives

Volunteers from Wiltshire Search and Rescue were called out last week to support Wiltshire Police to find an elderly man. Due to the immediate lifesaving actions by the team, the man was able to be safely transported to hospital by ambulance where he is now making a good recovery.

Adrian Sawyer, Chair of Wiltshire Search and Rescue, had this to say about the events, “When the call came through to us on the evening of 11th November, our volunteers were immediately sent to assist the police in the search. By planning sectors based on the available information, and putting the skills into practice that are learned through continuous training, the team was able to accurately identify the suspected location of Mr Paredes.

“This structured approach to searching is so vital during the early hours of any callout and greatly increases the chance of finding the missing person. Despite the darkness and dropping temperatures, the team was also able to rapidly search a river that was on the route, both from the bank and by entering the water in protective drysuits. It was a joint effort with the police in ensuring that together we had all possible locations discussed, prioritised and searched.”

Mr Paredes’ condition when he was found was of concern to the team, as he had been missing for several hours, was inadequately dressed for the poor weather conditions, and was dangerously hypothermic.

All of our team members are trained in basic life saving, and many of them to give more advanced medical care including joint training with the Ambulance Service. Treatment was immediately started, and additional lifesaving equipment was rushed to the scene. After Paramedics arrived, the team continued to assist moving Mr Paredes using a stretcher.

Wiltshire Police was quick to praise the volunteers, adding, “We are extremely grateful to the volunteers at Wiltshire Search and Rescue who in this situation gave us much needed extra people on the ground, working alongside our officers as colleagues.”

Wiltshire Search and Rescue is a voluntary organisation funded entirely through voluntary donations. The team is professionally trained and is called out by Wiltshire Police to support with finding vulnerable and missing people. In 2016 over 10,000 hours of volunteer hours were given to the community by the team. Our volunteers come from all walks of life and are united in their desire to be there when people need us most.

If you’d like to donate to the team to support our equipment, our vehicles and our training, please visit http://wilsar.org.uk/donate


Facebook: @wilsarteam

Twitter: @WiltshireSAR


For press information about Wiltshire Search and Rescue, please call Sarah Wolf, PR 07747 733216 or email pr@wilsar.org.uk


Could we be looking for you?

3 August 2017  |  News, Training & Events
Wiltshire Search and Rescue red jacket

Wiltshire Search and Rescue Operational team on a search exercise

If you’d like to become part of the team then please come and meet us!

We’re holding a new members’ information evening on 27th September at the Cheese Hall in Devizes between 1930 and 2130.

Read up about joining and then email membership@wilsar.org.uk to register your interest.

Full press release below

Could we be looking for you?

Wiltshire Search and Rescue needs volunteers!

Vital search and rescue volunteers are needed by Wiltshire Search and Rescue (www.wilsar.org.uk) to continue the important work of supporting the police in looking for and helping the county’s vulnerable and missing people.  More volunteers are needed to ensure the team can continue to provide a high level of assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week so an information evening has been organised for Wednesday 27th September in Devizes for interested people to come and learn more.

A recent search for an elderly man with dementia took place over three days and we were successful in finding him and ensuring he was taken to a place of safety. After the search his wife had this to say about Wiltshire Search and Rescue, “Knowing that you were out looking for him gave me the strength to carry on. I am so grateful to you all for what you did and I feel like this is my lucky day.”

Wiltshire Search and Rescue’s members, who range from teachers to delivery drivers, are all volunteers who receive the essential training needed to help save the lives of anyone from small children to elderly people suffering from dementia.

Established since 2000, the organisation is holding an information evening at the Cheese Hall in Devizes. Starting at 1930 on 27th September, the event aims to showcase the great work that the search and rescue team does every year, and will allow potential volunteers to get a taste of the scale and variety of the organisation.

Chair of Wiltshire Search and Rescue, Adrian Sawyer, encourages everyone with an interest in helping the team to come along and learn more. “You don’t need to commit many hours a month but our volunteers make a huge difference to the families of the missing people. Our work, alongside Wiltshire Police, been commended by the families of the people that we support and we do it because we really can make a difference. In an average year, we’ll be called out about 50 times, giving over 10,000 hours of our time to help the people of Wiltshire.”

In 2016 Wiltshire Search and Rescue volunteers were called out 43 times by Wiltshire Police to help locate vulnerable and missing people, including saving the lives of two people they found. The volunteers were also asked a further eight times to assist with neighbouring Search and Rescue teams, bringing the total number of call-outs to 51, almost one a week, throughout 2016.

In recognition of the hours of searching that Wiltshire Search and Rescue’s team has given for free to their local community, Inspector Paul Saunders from Wiltshire Police, had this to say in thanks, “When you speak to a Wiltshire Search and Rescue volunteer their pride in what they do and their dedication to their craft is tangible. Their willingness to be on call, at all hours of the day, for no reward other than knowing they have been directly involved in saving lives does them credit.  Wiltshire Police is very pleased to be associated with them and look forward to continuing the close working relationship that exists between us.”

Membership Officer, Cris Wiles, adds, “When we get the call from the police, it is vital that searchers are on the ground quickly, especially when bad weather makes the risk to the missing person even greater. If you are looking for a truly rewarding volunteering opportunity, and want to help save lives, then we’d love you to come to our event in Devizes. You’ll get a chance to hear from the team about our roles – everything from searching in water to dealing with a medical emergency – and work out where your skills and experience could fit.”

There are several roles within Wiltshire Search and Rescue but what is most important is that volunteers are motivated, committed and outgoing. Full training will be given so no experience is necessary. Roles range from Search Technicians who will take part in the search and rescue operations, through to supporting team members such as fundraisers, administration and maintenance.

Every volunteer will receive the appropriate kit and be welcomed to a professional team where you can make good friends, explore the outdoors and be rewarded with the satisfaction of supporting your county and making a vital difference to the most vulnerable members of our community.




Notes to editors

Wiltshire Search and Rescue’s new members’ information evening

Wednesday 27th September


Cheese Hall

Town Hall

St John’s Street



SN10 1BN


If people are interested in attending they should email membership@wilsar.org.uk


Family send thanks for our support in finding missing George

Family so thankful after Wiltshire Search and Rescue finds George

After nearly 600 hours of searching involving 51 people, two Search and Rescue tracking dogs and spanning four days, Wiltshire Search and Rescue team members were successful in finding missing George Bassett, an 82 year old man with dementia. George was immediately taken to hospital where he is recovering well. The family has lived in Nomansland near Landford for 50 years and George has always been a keen walker.

Pamela Bassett, George’s wife, said today, “Knowing that you were out looking for him gave me the strength to carry on. I am so grateful to you all for what you did and I feel like this is my lucky day.” Pamela, who celebrates her 81st birthday today (22nd July) added, “Everybody from Wiltshire Police and from the search and rescue organisations couldn’t have done more and I can’t thank you enough.”


Searching for George Bassett

George had been reported missing on Tuesday 18th July from his home in Nomansland, at the edge of the county bordering the New Forest. Wiltshire Police called the professionally trained volunteers from Wiltshire Search and Rescue to assist in the planning and the search. Volunteers were also called from neighbouring Lowland Rescue teams: Hampshire Search and Rescue, Hampshire Search Dogs, Dorset Search and Rescue, and Dorset Search Dogs.


Adrian Sawyer, Chair of Wiltshire Search and Rescue, had this to say about the multiple teams who brought about the success of this search, “We are really pleased with the outcome of this search and it was absolutely worth the lost sleep, the miles walked, the thunder, lightening, and torrential rain that we all endured in order to bring George safely back to his family. I’m proud of the way all the teams worked together seamlessly and supported Wiltshire Police. This is truly why we train so hard and volunteer our time.”

Water ii

The search was coordinated by Wiltshire Police who also used their drone and their helicopter to scour the fields and woodland around Nomansland in sometimes very challenging conditions. The teams on the ground quickly reacted to the information coming in from a variety of sources and were able to systematically search a large area of fields, crops, a reservoir and woodland.

Team work


Wiltshire Search and Rescue is a voluntary organisation funded entirely through voluntary donations. The team is professionally trained and is called out by Wiltshire Police to support with finding vulnerable and missing people. In 2016 over 10,000 hours of volunteer hours were given to the community by the team. Our volunteers come from all walks of life and are united in their desire to be there when people need us most.

If you’d like to donate to the team to support our equipment, our vehicle and our training please visit http://wilsar.org.uk/donate



Facebook: @wilsarteam

Twitter: @WiltshireSAR


For press information about Wiltshire Search and Rescue, please call Sarah Wolf, PR 07747 733216 or email pr@wilsar.org.uk


About Wiltshire Search and Rescue

Wiltshire Search and Rescue is a non-profit making organisation that relies on our own fundraising, along with donations and sponsorship from the public and local businesses. We receive no government funding or subsidies and are a registered charity. All of our members are unpaid volunteers and we make no charge for our services.


The team consists of approximately 50 members. All operational members are trained to the Association of Lowland Search and Rescue (ALSAR) standards. We have a number of ALSAR trained Team Leaders, Search Planners and Search Managers. One of these members is on duty at all times and will arrange the call-out of the Team via an SMS system. Searches are usually managed on the ground by our own Search Managers who act under the direction of a Police Search Advisor.


2017-07-18 CALLOUT NOMANSLAND – Update

21 July 2017  |  Latest callouts, News


George Bassett has now been found.


Statement from Wiltshire Police

“We are pleased to report that George Bassett, the 82-year-old man who has been missing from Nomansland, Salisbury, since 18 July, has today been found safe and well.

Mr Bassett was found by police search teams and Wiltshire Search and Rescue (WILSAR) working alongside each other.

The wife of Mr Bassett would like to thank everyone involved in the search efforts including the police officers, volunteers from WILSAR and the local community for their support and help.

Wiltshire Police would also like to thanks the volunteers of WILSAR for their invaluable help in this search.”



We have been called out by Wiltshire Police to support with a search for a missing 82 year old man called George Bassett. George has dementia and was last seen on Tuesday 18th July in Nomansland where he lives. Teams have been searching day and night since we were called to support.


Wiltshire Police’s latest update on the search from their website http://www.wiltshire.police.uk/news/appeals/3921-missing-man-george-bassett-update

Officers are still searching for missing 82-year-old George Bassett who has gone missing from Nomansland, near Salisbury.

George was last seen near to the Nomansland Village Hall around midday on Tuesday 18 July 2017.

George is vulnerable, may be confused and requires daily medication which is not with him.

Volunteers from Wiltshire Search and Rescue (WILSAR), including members from Avon and Somerset and Dorset, helped in the search from mid-afternoon until 9pm yesterday (Wed 19 July).

Acting Inspector Russell Griffin said: “Officers are continuing the search for George today.
“We would like to remind people to check their sheds, garages and gardens.
“We’d like to thank the local community who have so far shared messages on social media and have shown concern.
“I’d like to remind people that we currently don’t need volunteers to help in our search as we have specialist teams looking for George.
“However, if you have any information about George’s whereabouts, please contact Wiltshire Police on 101.”

Volunteers Week 2017 and our new film

31 May 2017  |  News

To mark Volunteers’ Week 2017, we’ve had a film made that shows the techniques involved in a search. Our volunteers train extremely hard and specialise in a number of different areas to ensure we are able to fully support the emergency services both on land and on water.

To view the film click here.



This film was shot on location at Coate Water during Exercise Bulrush, a joint training day with a number of organisations including Wiltshire Police, South Western Ambulance Service and Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue.

With huge thanks to Razor Television for shooting and producing the film for free.

#volunteers week



2017-12 Callout Swindon continued

Thursday 13th April 2017

Team placed on standby at 11:00 to continue search for a missing despondent male in the Blunsdon area.

Team deployed at 12:30 and stood down again at 17:20 pending further Police enquiries.

2017-11 Callout Swindon

Wednesday 12th April 2017

Called at 21:30 by Wiltshire Police to search for a missing  despondent male in the Blunsdon area of Swindon.

Search continued throughout night and Team was stood down at 06:30 pending further Police enquiries.