Award for search and rescue volunteer from Chalgrove

Steve Butcher
Steve Butcher

A Chalgrove man has been honoured for his voluntary work in search and rescue.

Steve Butcher from Chalgrove has received an award from the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire for his part in founding Oxfordshire Lowland Search and Rescue, a lowland rescue team which is part of the official national search and rescue framework.

The team is a purely voluntary service funded by charity, available to the emergency services 24 hours a day.

Steve, a self-employed electrician, is one of the team’s nationally qualified search managers responsible for planning searches and deploying often over 50 lowland rescue personnel from across the country.

He has been an integral part of the team’s growth, helping to oversee the development of search and rescue on land, water search and rescue, the team’s own search dogs and now the advent of drones.

Steve said: “When we started there were 15 of us. We had a laptop and some mapping software and that was it. Now there are nearly 70 of us, we have a control vehicle which is near state of the art, three inflatable power boats, a fully trained team of swiftwater rescue technicians, drones and a growing dog team.

“I’m really proud and surprised to have received the award. I’m proudest of what we offer to the emergency services, how we are relied upon by Thames Valley Police, how we give missing people in Oxfordshire a really good chance of being found, and the difference we make in the community.”

The High Sheriff’s awards where presented at a ceremony on March 26 at Oxford Town Hall.

The team’s most common call for assistance is searching for high risk vulnerable missing people. These might be people with dementia who have become confused and lost, people with learning difficulties or autism, children or people suffering a mental health crisis. The team, now in its 10th year of operation, respond to on average 70 calls for assistance from the police every year.