M6toll gets charity moving

M6toll is helping get rescuers moving with a donation that has funded a new emergency vehicle. Staffordshire Lowland Search and Rescue Team (SSART) has acquired a Nissan Pathfinder to aid their work in locating and rescuing missing people.

The sponsored vehicle, which will replace one of its aging fleet of 4 x 4s, has also been liveried by M6toll and was collected by the team at a handover yesterday (Thursday 31 March).

It has been equipped to assist rescue teams with evacuation, recovery and logistics during operations to search for and rescue, vulnerable missing people including children and adults. People go missing for many reasons including mental ill health and dementia related conditions.

The donation has been made as part of M6toll’s annual Drive For Charity in which £30,000 is shared among selected charities. During 2015-16 this has included the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, Fisher House and Violets in Bloom, alongside SSART. Midlands Expressway Ltd (MEL) which operates M6toll is also a key sponsor of the Midlands Air Ambulance and funds a range of community projects for smaller organisations throughout the year. SSART was considered a worthy recipient of Drive for Charity because of the vital work it carries out – despite being staffed entirely by volunteers. It has 70 qualified members at the ready – around-the-clock, 365 days of the year.

They are highly trained to support police, fire, ambulance and the civil contingencies unit with specialist skills including water searches and in severe weather conditions or in the event of a major disaster.

Andy Pearson, MEL’s chief executive, said that M6toll’s donation would support and benefit communities across Staffordshire.

“Staffordshire Search and Rescue provides a lifeline to individuals who find themselves in extremely difficult circumstances and environments. Its specialist skills are regularly used by our emergency services and its work is even more awe inspiring when you consider that they are a team of volunteers who give so freely of their own time to help others at their time of greatest need. SSART is an extremely worthy recipient of our Drive for Charity award and we are delighted that we can assist in keeping it operational.”

Paul Keen, SSART Chairman, said that the organisation had faced a dilemma when ‘Amy’, one of its Land Rovers, became increasingly expensive to run and repair.

“I'm not entirely sure where to start with the initial thanks for the huge award Midlands Expressway granted us. To say £10,000 is a significant amount to SSART would boil down to good old fashioned British understatement! This will have a major impact on the team's capability in providing Search and Rescue services to the people of Staffordshire.”

SSART volunteer Dawn Hopley, added: “Without reliable vehicles we could not transport our equipment or personnel; nor could we respond in adverse weather to calls for help from the NHS or Fire Service. “That said, any vehicle is useless without a reliable road network, such as that provided by the M6toll. It provides a key arterial route for the emergency services and groups such as ourselves. Without access to the M6toll, response times to those in need could be significantly affected; and as we all know, time saves lives.”

undefinedM6toll CEO Andy Pearson (right) hands over the keys for the sponsored vehicle to Bob Mcbey, SSART’s equipment officer.