It is not just law that is all in a day’s work for Oswestry solicitor, Caroline Yorke. In addition to her daytime role as a family lawyer at local law firm Lanyon Bowdler, Caroline is also a volunteer assisting SARDA Wales (Search & Rescue Dogs Association).
SARDA Wales is a charitable voluntary organisation affiliated to Mountain Rescue, and its purpose is to train Mountain Rescue team members and civilians to become search dog handlers. As well as the traditional role of working alongside Mountain Rescue Teams in the search for missing people in the mountains, the remit has widened in recent years to include lowland and urban searches, such as for depressed or suicidal people who have gone missing, people suffering from dementia or other mental health difficulties, or scenes of road and air crashes where casualties might be unaccounted for. In fact, the majority of SARDA’s work now is now comprised of such searches.
Caroline originally became involved in the organisation in November 2006 as a ‘dogsbody’. Dogsbodies are volunteers who hide on mountains, in abandoned buildings or even up trees, or leave a trail and an item of clothing behind so that the dogs can be trained to locate them. Dogsbodies are central to the organisation since without them, search dogs cannot be trained. A dogsbody will lie out on a mountainside for anything up to 6 hours, regardless of the weather!
Caroline, like all of the SARDA Wales volunteers is on call 24/7, 365 days a year. In 2009 she was asked to join the team as a callout support member and has since been involved in a number of callouts in Mid / North Wales and Shropshire and was involved in SARDA Wales’ attendance during the search for April Jones in Machynlleth.
Caroline said “As a family lawyer, my particular interest is liaising with the police and the family of a missing person to gather information and evidence and my professional experience is useful when debriefing search parties, but I can be called upon in any support role needed from radio communications to tea making! I’m very fortunate that Lanyon Bowdler allows me extra leave to attend training sessions or week day assessments as required. Also, should I need to go to a callout in work hours, they are flexible in letting me make up the time later”.
SARDA Wales rely on the goodwill of volunteers and their employers to allow them to provide specialist teams to assist the Police in searches for vulnerable people of all ages. Although the essential clothing and safety equipment is paid for and the rescue dogs fed and cared for through donations and charitable assistance, all the dog handlers and dogsbodies must generally provide their own equipment – including mountain gear such as ice axes and crampons.
It must be stressed that all of the search and rescue dogs live with their handlers, and should any dog not ‘make the grade’ then they simply return home with their handler for a life by the fireside! The annual running costs of such a valuable resource as SARDA are about £20,000 and the volunteers also run fundraising events through the year.
Caroline is keen to raise awareness of SARDA Wales, and is happy to come and talk to any company, school or voluntary organisation, for a small donation.
Member since: 10th July 2012
A quick introduction - I'm John Waine, Director of TheBestOfOswestry. Having lived in this beautiful area for around 20 years now, I have decided to stay. :)
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