LIFE-SAVING volunteers who help the police find missing people in Oxfordshire have won thousands of pounds to upgrade their operation.

The Oxfordshire Lowland Search and Rescue (OxSAR) team were handed the £11,000 from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) after applying to its Resilient Communities Fund.

The group, who are on call every day of the year, applied for the funding to pay for new water incident equipment as well as training that will enhance the vital work they do across the county and beyond to help find missing people.

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Police forces across the country rely on search and rescue teams to provide a reliable resource of unpaid but well-trained professionals.

Previous funding from SSEN has helped OxSAR buy and kit out its vehicles.

This has helped put the Oxfordshire group at the forefront of UK search and rescue operations with its search management technology and increased space for vital medical and rescue equipment.

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Some equipment is necessary for specialised searches including water rescue in river or floodwaters.

Group chairman David Woodgate said: “We’re delighted to have received this funding from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks and for their support of the work that we do across Oxfordshire and beyond, all of which depends entirely on funding, donations and volunteers.

“This grant is enabling us to further build on the technology and training that allows us to provide essential, life-saving assistance to communities and emergency services alike.”

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SSEN said it has also recently been working closely with communities in the south east of England, helping them create resilience plans for emergencies such as adverse weather and possible power disruption during winter storms.

Ian Reynolds, head of region for the Ridgeway area where OxSAR is based, said: “I’m delighted to see Oxfordshire Lowland Search and Rescue expanding its activity through our Resilient Communities Fund.

“This organisation and the essential service they provide is well recognised across the region and it’s wonderful to be able to help it expand its kit and skills through this grant; the benefits this brings to our communities can’t be underestimated.

“Our goal is to help our customers build their own resilience. This is an excellent example of how the funding can be used and another way of showing that our customers and their welfare is at the heart of all we do.”

There are 25 other local community groups in central southern England who are benefitting from up to £20,000 in this latest round of funding.