Not for Profit

Lifesaving charity launches its own rescue bid – to save itself

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 04 August 2020 8:48

Lifesaving charity launches its own rescue bid – to save itself

A charity based here in Gloucestershire which takes it upon itself to search for and save the lives of the missing – on land and water - is seeking funds to keep itself shipshape. 

That is not to say the incredible, and little championed SARA (Severn Area Rescue Association) is, to coin a phrase, up a creek without a paddle itself, but it is by its own admission in ‘urgent’ need of funds. 

For the many who go missing or get into difficulties annually on the higher reaches of the River Sever through Gloucestershire and upwards, or who suffer the immense anxiety as a loved one goes disappears anywhere in the county’s countryside, it is SARA the emergency services turn to. 

The RNLI does not cover this stretch of mighty and beguiling tidal water. Get into trouble here on one of the most treacherous inland waterways in the UK and only SARA will come for you.


Its small team of 28 volunteers will drop everything to man a lifeboard or rescue craft, Land Rover or head a search party as their specialist skills are called upon to keep us safe and united. 

Run entirely through its own fundraising its own efforts can go only so far, and a mounting number of bills have led it to launch what it is calling “an urgent appeal to raise vital funds to repair the main building of our lifeboat station at Sharpness”. 

“The Old Dock House at SARA Sharpness Lifeboat Station is home to three lifeboats and our hovercraft, as well as being the base for the 28-strong crew,” said a spokesman for the charity. 

“Despite our best efforts over the years, it now needs urgent specialist repair work, and the costs are estimated at £25,000. 

“Covid-19 has dramatically reduced our face-to-face fundraising efforts this year.”

The SARA Lifeboat Station at Sharpness is housed mainly in the Old Dock House at Sharpness. 

This building has been our base since 1996, and is home to two small lifeboats, a hovercraft and the operations room for the team, called out 20-30 times per year. 

The building needs urgent repairs, which are essential to keep our lifesaving boats and kit in good condition. 

All the rescue equipment such as drysuits and swiftwater and flood rescue equipment for the 28-strong volunteer crew is stored here. 

There is a crew room for refreshments after callouts and training. There is a team Land Rover and a crane which winches the rescue boats straight down to the river. 

The team's larger new lifeboat lives in a purpose-built boathouse 100m away, along with its dedicated launch tractor. 

The Old Dock House is a Grade II listed building, leased by SARA, and it sits in a prominent location which means that it gets lashed by the weather.


“It is now in desperate need of repairs before the winter. Over the years the volunteer crew members have made running repairs to the building but specialist help is now required as the repairs needed to maintain the building to a suitable standard are outside the skills of the crew. 

“It needs new windows as water ingress is causing damage to the station interior. Most interior walls facing the front of the building require major damp proofing and re-plastering due to damp, the external render on boathouse wall requires repair as significant areas of which have blown and fallen off, and the exterior walls need repair. 

“In additional the sliding doors on the station boat storage area, and on the station garage area require repair or replacement, and the garage area requires a new roof. We estimate that the total cost of repairs is in the region of £25,000, and are essential to keep our lifesaving boats and kit in good condition.” 

There has been a SARA Lifeboat Station at Sharpness since 1985, which was housed in a cargo container and a portacabin for its first 11 years. The first SARA station was established at Chepstow in 1973. 

The Sharpness crew are called out both to people and vessels in distress in the River Severn and to support the Police with other water searches across Gloucestershire, and they have been deployed on several such callouts during the Coronavirus lockdown period. 

To support the appeal click here to visit the SARA fundraising page or to discuss other ways to help email on