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Gisborne LandSAR works to fill vital funding gap

2 August 2018

The trustees established the Gisborne Land Search and Rescue Endowment Fund at Sunrise as a means to fundraise for the future of the public service.

Gisborne Land Search and Rescue (GLSAR) has been searching for and rescuing lost, missing and injured people for 58 years. They rely on the combined efforts of unpaid professionals and trained volunteers. Their specialist search and rescue skills are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Chris Sharp, GLSAR Trust chairperson, says they are well supported by organisations such as the police and their national body, but there are additional costs that need to be covered to provide a robust search and rescue service for the Tairawhiti-Gisborne District. “We cannot run a full search without supplementary equipment, over and above that supplied by third parties. We need specialised equipment and continual training of our volunteer rescuers.”

Alan Hall has been involved with GLSAR for 45 years and heads the operational committee. A key focus for him has been the recruitment of volunteers. He believes GLSAR is an attractive organisation to volunteer for because they focus on ensuring they have the resources to keep volunteers safe, an inviting team environment that people want to be involved in and training programmes which can cross over to career paths.

GLSAR has 75 volunteers with a wide spread of expertise across many fields. Alan says with so many volunteers training can be costly. “In the early days we could get away with relying on experience, but now, with workplace safety, things have changed and the extra training that compliance requires adds a burden.”

Wendy Stichbury, GLSAR administrator, says the national body funds core competency training, but all other training has to be funded by them. “We have to ensure our volunteers have a range of professional skills, local knowledge of terrain and conditions, and experience for search and rescue incidents. The training we do is extensive and ongoing, we are continually upskilling and refreshing our members.”

Wendy added “we clocked up 5,452 volunteer hours last year. That’s a huge ask from volunteers and their employers that release them from their duties to assist in searches.”

Wendy does the annual funding applications and says many funders now want to see other sources of income on funding applications. “This is where we see our new endowment fund filling a vital gap as we don’t have our own source of income.”

Glenda Stokes, Sunrise executive officer, says the team at GLSAR have been doing an outstanding job for our community for many years. “They are a dedicated group of individuals that do a vital job, many times in trying situations. “Although it’s a service that none of us hopes we’ll have to call on, it is reassuring to know that if in need we have a group of capable and professional rescuers to help.”

She added that GLSAR’s new fund will ensure a reliable source of income for the service in the future. “It will be a secure and guaranteed source of income every year, which will benefit them more and more as the fund grows.”

All donations to the Gisborne Land Search and Rescue Endowment Fund will be invested, protected and grown to keep up with inflation. The surplus investment income will be returned to them each and every year forever.


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