Severn Area Rescue Association

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Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA, Severn Rescue)
Founded 1973
Type Search and rescue Charity
Registration No. Severn Area Rescue Association, Registered Charity no. 505504 at the Charity Commission
Employees 0
Volunteers 170
10 Boats, 8 Mobiles

The Severn Area Rescue Association aka SARA or Severn Rescue is an Inshore Rescue boat and Land Search organisation covering the Severn Estuary and upper reaches of the River Severn. SARA is the largest independent lifeboat service in the UK, second only to the RNLI, with 12 operational boats and approximately 170 personnel.

SARA currently operates from four stations. These are located at Beachley, near Chepstow in Monmouthshire, Sharpness in Gloucestershire, Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire and Wyre Forest, Worcestershire.[1] The operational area for these stations includes large parts of the rivers Severn, Wye, Bristol Avon, Usk. SARA are the designated rescue service for these areas, being called primarily via HM Coastguard, Police or Fire Brigade. During flooding and other events SARA has often operated away from its core area to provide rescue services when requested.

SARA is not part of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and receives no funding from them. The RNLI does not operate in any of the above areas.

The membership is made up entirely from volunteers, with no paid staff. As a registered charity, all funding is raised by way of donations.

SARA was founded in 1973, with its then headquarters at Tutshill, which is near the current Beachley station. In 1976 SARA became a registered charity and purchased its first boat in 1977.

In 1985 SARA became an official Mountain Rescue[2] Team in the role of Cliff rescue for the Wye valley. A year later in 1986 a second station was opened at Sharpness. This was primarily in response to a tragic loss of life in the Sharpness area. 5 boats are now stationed at Sharpness

In June 2005 a new station was opened at Upper Arley in the Wyre Forest. SARA Wyre Forest operates in the largest geographical area of the four stations covering Shropshire, Worcestershire and parts of Herefordshire and the West Midlands county. SARA Wyre Forest operates 3 rescue boats, 1 4x4 and 1 road ambulance as well as housing and maintaining the organisations Incident Command Unit.

All SARA stations are members of Mountain Rescue England and Wales and SARA is part of SWERA the South West England Rescue Association.[3]

SARA Beachley is a recognised Mountain Rescue Post, and operates an assistance capacity to the fire brigade for cliff rescues. SARA is also heavily involved in land searches, which are becoming a more frequent requirement.

The need for SARA is increasing with more callouts evident year on year. The variety and range of callouts is also increasing. Typical Incidents involve boats or persons in difficulty in one of the rivers SARA cover, but also the search for missing persons, animal rescue and flood relief are becoming common.

SARA has become a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) recognised teaching establishment. With 9 SARA members now certified instructors SARA is able to teach and certify its own members to RYA Powerboat Levels 1 & 2 and RYA Safety boat. It is hoped to offer this service to the public in the near future to help bring awareness and funding to the organisation.


  • 1973 - Organisation was founded
  • 1976 - Became a registered charity
  • 1977 - Purchased its first boat
  • 1985 - Became an official Mountain Rescue Post
  • 1986 - Second station was opened at Sharpness
  • 2009 - Fourth station opened in Tewkesbury
  • 2011 - Joint 'Water Rescue Centre' opened in Tewkesbury, a statigic alliance between GFRS, SARA and Gloucestershire County Council

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