Borders Water Rescue charity nets £18k cash boost

BWRT members supervising the Looney Dook at Birgham in 2018.
BWRT members supervising the Looney Dook at Birgham in 2018.

Volunteers at a Borders rescue team are celebrating having netted more than £18,000 in grant funding to spend on potentially lifesaving equipment.

Borders Water Rescue Team has been given a grant of £18,169 from a £1m pot made available to charities by the UK Government Department for Transport.

Borders Water Rescue Team use a rescue sled during training.

Borders Water Rescue Team use a rescue sled during training.

The Kelso-based team works with the emergency services to provide water-based search, rescue and recovery services and is kept particularly busy manning water crossings during the Borders’ common riding season.

The cash will be used to buy a new boat, drysuits and other equipment to help the team save lives.

The rescue team’s leader of 21 years, David Fuller-Shapcott, said: “We put in an application because we have two inflatable boats at the moment, the larger of which is around 20 years old, and we felt it needed replacing.

“This grant will allow us to buy a fully-equipped inflatable boat and the equipment needed for its six-man crew.

“It will be powered and capable of dealing with flood rescues in both a rural and urban environment.”

The team was formed as an unincorporated voluntary organisation in 1997 and was the first of its kind.

It later gained charity status and today covers the Borders and East Lothian, as well as parts of Midlothian and West Lothian.

The group holds monthly outdoor training sessions and weekly pool-based training for its 20-plus-strong group of volunteers.

Borders MP John Lamont, added: “I am delighted that the UK Government has recognised the fantastic work done by Borders Water Rescue Team.

“This financial support will allow them to continue with their lifesaving work, not least keeping our riders safe when crossing water at common ridings and festival time.”

The rescue boat grant fund was launched in 2014 to provide £5m over five years to independent search and rescue teams working on inland waterways.

The money has already paid for 65 new boats, as well as launch vehicles, rafts and safety gear.

The UK Government’s maritime minister Nusrat Ghani said: “Our rescue boat teams are the unsung heroes of the UK’s waterways.

“Their commitment and skill keeps people safe on and around our rivers, lakes and inshore areas.

“Lives have been saved as a result of this scheme, and our additional funding will ensure that these tireless volunteers and charities can buy the craft, equipment, and other resources they need to provide vital round-the-clock services.”

The bids for the latest round of funding were considered by an expert panel, chaired by officials and including representatives from DEFRA and the devolved administrations as well as expert advisers from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, RNLI and the Royal Yachting Association.