Water Rescue Unit needs funds to guarantee future

New equipment for Border Water Rescue Team, seen here in Kelso.
New equipment for Border Water Rescue Team, seen here in Kelso.
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A rescue team involved in the emergency response to Storm Desmond has appealed for vital funds.

Volunteers with the Borders Water Rescue Unit helped evacuate people from their homes last week as the River Teviot threatened to break its banks.

The unit, which boasts 23 volunteers from professions including building, painting, engineering and teaching, consists of divers who are trained to carry out search, rescue and recovery operations in rivers and lakes.

But the registered charity, entirely self-funded, requires £50,000 to guarantee its future. The BWRU believe their work as a rescue unit will be in increasing demand in the future as extreme weather events appear to become more common.

Team leader David Fuller-Shapcott, a farmer from near Kelso, said: “We are looking at significant climate change issues. We have got more major weather events.

“The rivers respond much more as a consequence and water rescue is becoming much more of an issue than it used to be.”

As well as responding during floods, the unit works alongside the emergency services in search and rescue situations on inland waters in the Lothians and the Borders. They also helps support water-based community events, such as the Common Ridings water crossings.

Members need to raise £50,000 for a vehicle which can tow their equipment.

Mr Fuller-Shapcott said: “We are at a crossroads as a team and we need to be thinking in terms of securing a vehicle to complement what we already do.

“We have two boats. We have to choose between two when we go to an incident at the moment because we can’t take both.”