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Page last updated at 11:43 GMT, Tuesday, 4 August 2009 12:43 UK
Patrolling the Severn with SARA

Severn Area Rescue Assoction (SARA)
SARA covers the Severn Estuary and upper reaches of the River Severn

With eight operational boats, 150 personnel and three stations, the Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA) is the largest independent lifeboat service in the UK.

The organisation was founded in 1973 with the first official base at Beachley followed 13 years later by the opening of a second Gloucestershire station at Sharpness.

In 2001 a third base was opened at Upton-Upon-Severn, Worcestershire.

"SARA is primarily a lifeboat service," explained Geoff Dawe, station chairman at the Sharpness boathouse.

"It's a declared facility of HM Coastguard for the tidal waters from Avonmouth to Gloucester in exactly the same way as RNLI lifeboats are around the other parts of UK coastline."

"SARA also provides a land search facility, primarily along the river banks, because the banks of the Severn Estuary are very hostile and have unique dangers like slippery muddy banks".

Severn Area Rescue Assoction (SARA)
The charity needs 15,000 to finish its Sharpness boathouse & new facilities


The charity has no paid staff and all funding is raised by way of donations.

"Most people we meet have no idea that we are funded by the generosity of the public," said Geoff Dawe.

"They believe we're either funded by the government or are part of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) which is wrong."

Evidence suggests that the need for SARA is growing with callouts increasing in both variety and range.

Typically rescues involve boats or persons in difficulty but they might also be required to help search for missing persons, assist in animal rescues and offer help in times of severe flooding.

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