On the River Severn on Wednesday 7 February, SARA achieved an important milestone - the first operation of a SARA lifeboat with a female in command. SARA Helm Mary Miller joined the organisation in 2020, with a background in dinghy sailing and rowing, amongst other things, and was promoted to Helm in December, alongside Lee Morris and another lady Toity Deave. SARA has a number of female lifeboat crew and land search team members and search party leaders, but Mary and Toity are the first to be qualified as lifeboat helms.

During the previous Sunday afternoon, a yacht had run aground on the mud downstream from Thornbury. Two SARA lifeboats were tasked to go to her assistance, but she was stuck fast and her crew were able to walk shore, under supervision of Chepstow Coastguard. With the tide on Wednesday more than a metre higher than on Monday, she was refloated with Mary’s lifeboat standing by to assist if required. Another SARA lifeboat from SARA Sharpness then towed the yacht back to safety at Thornbury Sailing Club.

SARA achieved another first at the start of February, with Oliver ‘Ollie’ Pole completing his training to become an operational lifeboat crew. Having just turned 19, Ollie is one of the youngest lifeboat crew SARA has had and the first to have started volunteering with SARA as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Ollie first came to SARA in 2018, whilst working on his DofE Bronze, and helped out with routine maintenance and fundraising. SARA currently has 5 volunteer students helping at Beachley as part of working towards their DofE Award.

On February 6th, Richard and Hannah of the Netherend Inn hosted a Bingo night in support of the launch tractor appeal. It was a fantastic evening supported by lots of lovely local people. Everyone had a good time and raised a magnificent £680 towards the replacement of the launch tractor.

A massive thank you to the Netherend Inn, Woolaston and to everyone who came along, from all of us at SARA Beachley.

More information on the appeal and how to support it can be found here: https://www.sara-rescue.org.uk/lifeboat-launch-tractor/