The Leicestershire Search and Rescue (LeicSAR) group have been named as recipients of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
The group’s primary role is to assist Leicestershire Police in the search for high-risk missing persons, including people who have dementia, mental health conditions and those who have had an emergency while out walking.
LeicSAR’s Chairperson, Simon Headley, says: “The team are absolutely delighted to be receiving the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. This is a huge achievement for us and recognises the vital work we do. The whole team are extremely proud to be part of such an amazing group of people.
“Our team members come from all walks of life, we have serving and retired emergency service workers, people who are self-employed, people who work in education, engineers and more. We all have our own reasons for wanting to be part of the team, but we all have that one common goal, which is assisting our communities in their time of need and giving something back.”
The team is made up of 44 highly trained volunteers, among them are dog handlers, technicians, search planners and managers, team leaders and medics. They also have a nationally accredited air-scenting dog team and a specialist bicycle team, allowing them to search large or rural areas.
Chief Constable Simon Cole said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that the Search and Rescue team will be receiving this prestigious award. The team volunteer thousands of hours every year, selflessly giving up their own time to help people in a crisis.
“Their commitment and expertise has generated a very high level of respect from officers and staff across the force and it is a joint effort to secure the safety of a missing person. The team are highly trained in planning, coordinating and running searches, and will turn out whatever the time, day or weather to save lives and reunite families with their loved ones.
“They are a fantastic support to the force and I am tremendously grateful for the outstanding effort they put into finding missing people. This award is truly well deserved and I look forward to congratulating them in person once restrictions are eased.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Lord Willy Bach added: “This is richly deserved recognition of an excellent voluntary team who provide an outstanding service and I’m delighted for everyone involved.
“Often working with the police, their work is often critical in helping to find missing and vulnerable people and lives are saved as a result. It is hard to imagine a more important and inspirational public service to perform and I’m immensely proud to have supported their work.
“Earlier this year LeicSAR also received my Special Recognition Award at my Community Celebration Awards for its exceptional contribution to the delivery of my Police & Crime Plan.
“This expert Search and Rescue team, made up entirely of volunteers, turns out at any time and in all weathers to help locate people and the vital role it plays is appreciated across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.”
The group is fully self-sufficient and relies purely on donations, grants and fundraising as a registered charity. To find out more about the team and their work, please visit www.leicestershire-sar.org.uk.
Leicestershire Search and Rescue is one of 230 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of nominations remains high year on year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. Award winners this year are wonderfully diverse. They include volunteer groups from across the UK, including a community shop in Cornwall, an environmental group in Swansea, a group working with refugees and vulnerable people in Stirling and a thriving community arts centre in County Down.
Representatives of Leicestershire Search & Rescue will receive the award from Michael Kapur OBE Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire later this summer.
Furthermore, two volunteers from the team will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2021, along with other recipients of this year’s Award.