SurSAR are a charity made up of volunteers, there are no paid staff although some Trustees make money from charity activity. Their purpose is to ASSIST the emergency services such as the Police… they are most definitely NOT emergency services despite how their PR machine that is Seamus Kearns and James Turnbull project themselves to the world with flashing blue lights and more equipment than the genuine emergency services could ever dream of having access to. Whilst the team as a whole do a good job in turning out at all hours to help the police look for high risk missing people, the team is let down badly by unsuitable Trustees and Management Team. “Lions led by donkeys” is the best way to describe SurSAR at present.
Part of the problem is the unconstitutional way that SurSAR have set themselves up with the three Trustees also being part of the Management Team. Sadly this leads to corrupt activity that if challenged by the membership sees the member dismissed. In any other charity or organisation, if you have a problem you take it to management, if they don’t deal with it you take it to Trustees. The problem with SurSAR is Trustees & Management are one and the same they never find fault with what they are doing. There is a non existent investigation into the complainant and they are kicked out.
Everyone at SurSAR is a search technician first and a specialism is secondary such as K9 or water rescue. Everyone needs to keep “competencies” up to date or they are made non-operational. Sadly the Trustees/Management Team covertly change the rules to suit themselves.
So who are the donkeys ruining SurSAR?
Dr Piers Page is the Chairman (Trustee) and on the Management Team. You would think that as a Surgeon with Army experience he would be a strong leader. This is sadly not the case as he is too easily led by fellow Trustee James Rossell. He rarely, if ever turns up for callouts and is too overweight and unfit to pass the fitness test yet maintains operational currency when other members of the team would be made non operational. This silver tongued man blames everyone but himself for what is going wrong and tries to convince people he is right. Sadly people on the team don’t believe him or trust him with anything except his exceptional medical ability. Don’t expect Dr Page to sort out a problem like female team members being sexually harassed by a manager, or problems with bullying in the dog team, he simply is not interested. There are grave concerns about his integrity after he had to stand down as a Trustee of Lowland Rescue national level along with James Rossell due to allegations of theft, fraud and misusing charity funds. Information received tells us this was connected with trying to overthrow the LR Chairman Paul Lewis after a bogus investigation that they would not share the results with. No wrong doing was ever found on behalf of Paul Lewis, new trustees were voted in and the matter was hushed up by LR. Sadly tens of thousands of pounds of donated money was wasted on legal fees due to the unfounded allegations made by Piers Page and James Rossell.
James Rossell is the Treasurer and on the Management Team. He is probably the most dangerous person in SurSAR due his obsessive, reckless behaviour and appallingly dangerous attitude to risk. He displays traits of being on the autistic spectrum which can be a dangerous combination when dealing emergency services callouts and his behaviour often causes more problems than it solves. People complain that he always wants to “be the hero” and is often seen leaving his designated role or location to try get hands on with casualties. To Mr Rossell, SurSAR is a play thing, he is financially well off but lacks personal skills and empathy to be successful in SAR. He shows a great deal of arrogance to everyone he comes across which infuriates the “partners” in the Police and Fire Service who have to tolerate him due to the assistance SurSAR give. Surrey Fire and Rescue Service firefighters literally ask their senior officers to tell him to go away (put politely) as he is not wanted at the callouts and interferes whilst genuinely believing he is a senior police officer, senior fire officer and a paramedic. He is known for self deploying at fire service callouts and the fire service receive several complaints from incident commanders about this.
As Treasurer of the charity, James Rossell authorises payments to support his own little projects and even calls himself “Head of Special Projects” to justify this. What this means is he uses charity money to fund R&D projects and then benefits by selling those products/services commercially himself via his own company Wirehive. As with Piers Page, there were allegations of theft, fraud and misuse of charity funds made against him.
His apparent lack of honesty and integrity is not just in question when he was a Trustee of LR, it was questioned in court in 2019 connected with a situation that he created and cost the charity over £10,000 of donated money in legal fees. We are aware that James Rossell has been involved in dangerously and illegally flying drones for SurSAR. If this can be evidenced then it raises further concerns about his suitability to have anything to do with SurSAR or Lowland Rescue.
Seamus Kearns is the final Trustee who is the secretary and also on the management team as the “Head of Operations”. Mr Kearns is a serial job hopper who never seems to be able to hold down a job. His latest role is the Incident Response Manager for Cross Rail which he blagged due to his SAR experience and contacts at Cross Rail. Sadly he is another person with no emergency services experience who genuinely thinks he has. Lets hope there are no major incidents on Cross Rail as he won’t cope. He comes across as a “Nice guy” but he is two faced chancer and will bend the rules to get something done and get someone else to put their name to it. Mr Kearns doesn’t appear to have many integrity issues around him with the exception of managing to stay operational even though his morbid obesity leaves him unable to pass the fitness test like Dr Page.
Sadly Mr Kearns and Mr Rossell work too closely together and between them they are destroying SurSAR. Like Mr Rossell, Mr Kearns credibility with the emergency services is decreasing all the time due to his lack attitudes at times to things like wearing the correct PPE.
Trustees…..you would expect people to be able to trust the Trustees. Sadly not in SurSAR, there is no trust, they are personally disliked by team members who are sick of their attitudes and two that are ruining the charity. The membership can’t even trust them to do the right thing and resign.
A new member to the SurSAR leadership is Jill Thorpe. A headstrong teacher at the Royal Grammar School. She now holds an “executive position” in SurSAR after the management and Trustees were called out for being male, pale and stale. Don’t be fooled by her being the only token female on the management team. There have been several bullying and harassment concerns raised over her behaviour as she becomes more corrupted by the Trustees and she is already on the slippery slope to talking to colleagues like they are something she trod in. We have no doubts that more information will be received about her.