Island search and rescue organisation WightSAR has been awarded a £16,000 grant by the Isle of Wight Foundation.
The money will purchase new equipment including a high-resolution thermal imaging camera, outdoor waterproof clothing and three new laptops with the latest software linked to other regional emergency services.
The grant will also enable volunteers to undergo first responder training as well as training on the use of the latest search and rescue computer software.
WightSAR is one of seven charities which will receive a share of around £80,000 in funding from the Isle of Wight Foundation this year. Made up of the partners behind Island Roads, the foundation each year gives grants of between £3,000 and £16,000 to Island charities, good causes and organisations working to tackle social exclusion.
Since 2014, the foundation – comprising Ringway Island Roads, Meridiam, VINCI UK Foundation and VINCI Concession has donated nearly half a million pounds to such causes.
WightSAR is a voluntary organisation that assists Hampshire Constabulary and other agencies in searches for vulnerable missing persons on the Island.
Welcoming the £16,000 grant, WightSAR chair, Dean Terrett said: “Though we are volunteers, we need to provide the most efficient and professional service possible and this money from the Isle of Wight Foundation will enable our volunteers to work even more effectively with all agencies.
“We are totally dependent on volunteer members and we rely entirely on donations for our funding – this grant will make a massive difference to our organisation and our ability to help locate missing people.
“Island Roads has been a valuable supporter of WightSAR and this grant from the Isle of Wight Foundation is fantastic news for our organisation and those who rely on us. A huge thank you to the Isle of Wight Foundation.”
Under the foundation’s grant scheme, an Island Roads employee ‘sponsors’ the application from a group and then acts as a link to build an ongoing bond between the foundation and the recipient.
Steve Ambrose, Island Roads business manager and sponsor of the WightSAR bid, said: “Everyone at Island Roads is aware of the fantastic work WightSAR carries out on the Island. When time is of the essence it is vital that WightSAR volunteers have the equipment and training they need so that they can effectively support the Island’s emergency services to locate people, often in very challenging circumstances.
“It is reassuring to know that when the worst happens, thanks to the support of the Isle of Wight Foundation WightSAR will have the latest equipment it needs to continue its valuable work on the Island.”
Commenting on the applications received by the foundation this year, Phillip Horton, Isle of Wight Foundation chairman, said: “One again we have been hugely impressed with the great work being undertaken to tackle social exclusion and help vulnerable people on the Island.
“We hope that these latest awards will make a real positive difference and we look forward to hearing more about how this grant money is being put to good use in the coming months.”