As I write, winter finally seems to have arrived. As the cold, wet weather is upon us, I was very interested recently to meet members of OxSAR –Oxfordshire Lowland Search and Rescue. We rely on so many unseen and unsung volunteers in so many ways, and it is good, particularly at this time of year, to remind ourselves of what they do and why.
It’s not just mountainous areas that need search and rescue teams. In an urban or rural area people go missing and get lost too. Regardless of the terrain, if a vulnerable person is missing then it is vital to their chances of survival that they are found quickly. OxSAR look after us in Oxfordshire.
OxSAR are on call 24 hours a day, every day of the year. When the police are concerned about a missing person and they decide to scale up the search, they call them. Their members are all volunteers, they have full time jobs, families and commitments outside of OxSAR; yet when a call comes in many of them put their lives on hold. Within an hour and a half, they can have a mobile control unit set up, a search planner on the scene and trained searchers out on the ground looking for the vulnerable missing person. After a search, OxSAR members debrief, repack and replace equipment ready for next time and resume their normal lives – often going to work after a night out searching.
They wouldn’t be able to do what they do without the generous support of the public. They are entirely funded by donations: donations of time from their members and financial donations from sponsors and the public. If you would like to support their vital and often life-saving work, please have a look at their website: www.oxsar.org.uk. OxSAR is also always on the look out for new members. Whether you might want to become an operational member and get your feet on the ground and search or you want to help them raise the essential funds they need to support the team, they’d love to hear from you. Again, have a look at their website for details.
On a less seasonal note, my mailbag this month has been dominated by concerns about the impact of the planned closure of Steventon Bridge. I’ve been working with both Network Rail and the County Council to try to ensure they mitigate as much as possible what will undoubtedly be significant problems, and will continue to ensure that they do everything possible to help my constituents who will be affected.
As ever please feel free to contact me on any matter at the House of Commons, SW1A 0AA, 020 7219 6350 or email@example.com. Email is the quickest and most reliable way to get in touch, as I keep a very close eye on my emails and can reply very quickly. I also send out occasional general interest emails about developments in the Wantage and Didcot Constituency. If you would like to be added to the distribution list, please do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up at www.vaizey.com. Surgery details can be found at www.vaizey.com.
So finally, as the festive season approaches, may I wish everyone a happy and peaceful Christmas and a prosperous new year.
Ed Vaizey MP