Search and rescue team in Ridgeway Challenge

By Barrie Hudson - 5 May 2022


Members of Wiltshire Search and Rescue are to help carry a weighted mannequin over 100km (about 62 miles) along the Ridgeway.

The organisation, which covers Swindon, is joining teams from Oxfordshire and Berkshire for what is described as an epic two-day fundraising challenge beginning on Saturday, 7 May.

Dozens of volunteers will carry the weighted stretcher over rough terrain, and the money raised from sponsorship will help to enable the search and rescue groups to continue their work.

Members of Wiltshire Search and Rescue will begin the challenge at 7am, heading along The Ridgeway before passing the stretcher over to volunteers from Berkshire Lowland Search & Rescue, Oxfordshire Search and Rescue and Berkshire Search Dogs. The stretcher will contain a full rescue package of vacuum mattress, oxygen cylinder and casualty insulation along with the mannequin.

The route will see them tackling a wide range of highly demanding trails and crossing several obstacles.

Wiltshire Search and Rescue chair Adrian Sawyer said: “Our volunteers are really pushing themselves with this challenge to move the loaded stretcher a full 100km over the course of a single weekend – they’ll need to keep the pace up if they’re going to manage it during daylight hours.

“Many people don’t realise that search and rescue teams are charities and have to fundraise so they can keep doing their lifesaving work. You never know when a loved one might need rescuing so hopefully this challenge will help spread the message that they need support.

“Major incidents often require the assistance of multiple teams working across borders, so I think it’s quite apt that this sponsored stretcher carry also has many teams working and sweating together for a common goal.”

Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help the emergency services find vulnerable and missing people, the volunteers are asking people to sponsor their endeavours in order to fund the vital kit they need to do their lifesaving work.

In addition to annual running costs in excess of £100,000, the team currently also needs money to pay for the training and fitting out of new trainees so they can take all the mandatory courses required in order to qualify to take part in searches.

All team members are tested every year on their ability to walk 8km/5miles, carrying their search kit, in under two hours. They’re also all expected to be fit enough to support with carrying a stretcher for the last 200m of their fitness assessment, which is vital if their missing person needs to be evacuated.

In addition to raising money, the sponsored stretcher carry will also see members of all the teams digging deep to conquer the significant physical challenge the event represents.

People wishing to support the effort are invited to visit

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