We regularly mention dishonesty on this site along with the constant failure of Surrey Search and Rescue trustees and management to be honest, open and transparent. The latest post on Social Media is no different.
Apparently there have been 158 callouts in 2020, “record breaking” as they like to describe it. Chinny reckon…
The truth is that Trustees/Management have misrepresented the figures again to hoodwink the public as to how busy we are as this helps us get grants and tugs on the heart strings for fundraising. In reality this was our quietest year for genuine callouts from the police and fire service. We rarely got called out for our “core business” of searching for people and were exceptionally quiet.
Every time the phone goes it is logged as a callout in the stats in D4H, even the occasions where police phone for advice or where we are put on standby and don’t physically deploy due to lack of people available. They are counted as callouts.
Another truth is our neighbouring teams don’t call us for assistance unless they are absolutely desperate as they don’t like dealing with the arrogance of Seamus Kearns, James Rossell and some of the other “know it alls”. Our callouts to help other Lowland Rescue teams have been in decline for a couple of years.
The 2020 figures include volunteering for Covid 19 welfare checks which go down as incidents. We could post the D4H pages to show how callouts are recorded/people attending and what a broad definition they use for “call out” but a simpler way for the public to verify the callouts is to look at the Surrey SAR social media. When there is a genuine callout it gets posted on social media and there were not nearly the figures that Surrey Search and Rescue claim in 2020.
Another anomaly with the post is the photograph. It gives the false impression we have lots of volunteers. In reality it is an old photograph, we have lost so many people in the year with people quitting as the charity is in a complete mess and financially mismanaged by incompetent “management”/Trustees. The photo illustrates how the team is and always has been very white and our membership doesn’t reflect the community we volunteer in.
Surrey Search and Rescue should post up the figures and stats for the public to see. They won’t though, nor will they answer questions about massaging the figures.
Surrey SAR are now promoting a Lowland Rescue branded gin by Silent Pool distillery inappropriately named “Lifesaver” gin and people quite rightly are concerned about this.
Silent Pool are a local gin distillery in Surrey and they do make some high quality products however we do question their partnership with Surrey SAR and question their moral values by making money via Search and Rescue. Donating hand sanitiser was a great idea but selling alcohol in the name of SAR has over stepped the mark.
Alcohol plays a significant part in the final hours of many people either when intentionally taking their own lives or accidental deaths such as falling into water whilst drunk. It simply isn’t appropriate for Surrey SAR or Lowland Rescue to be promoting alcohol using their name and branding.
Surrey SAR get a mere £2.50 per bottle sold. We don’t see the Surrey Police Traffic Unit promoting alcohol as they know full well the harm that alcohol does when mixed with driving. Surrey Fire and Rescue Service don’t sell candles as they know how many people died from house fires due to unattended flames. It is a shame that Surrey SAR Trustees have such broken moral compasses and don’t follow suit, instead they take money from beer and gin sales knowing full well the role alcohol plays in the untimely deaths of those they are supposed to be helping.
Comments on the What Ales Yer post raise some very good questions.
Trailer wrote “Today i saw that SURSAR have launched a Gin called Lifesaver. ( I then checked it was April 1st) Can none of their Trustees see that this is totally inappropriate for a Charity who’s prime purpose is to preserve lives? Surely they have been to enough despondent death scenes to remember that alcohol and drugs play a very frequent part in the ends of very unhappy and ill people. To blazen the LR lozenge on a bottle of gin over the name ‘Lifesaver’ leaves me dismayed. Where was their ethics when they agreed to this or approached Silent Pool asking for it?
Buck Tarbrush wrote “I’ve just been reading on Facebook about Surrey SAR gin now too. It beggars belief that a SAR team is looking to make money from advertising alcohol. I think the poster who says he thought it was an April’s Fool joke is on the money. It seems a very strange decision by the committee to back this one.
The only one of the individuals named in this blog I have met is the fat one who pretends to be in the army and given his attitude it doesn’t surprise me that things are as they are with your trustees.
I hope that the moral of the whole team is still high despite their behaviours.”
What more can we add, these posts? They sum up how people in Lowland Rescue are thinking. We too find the choice of name highly inappropriate. Sadly it is not a joke and Trustees Dr Piers Page (Surgeon), James Rossell (IT geek), Seamus Kearns (serial job hopper) and Jill Thorpe (teacher) have made a conscious decision to generate funds from selling alcohol. Dr Piers Page should know better but if any of the others had common sense they would have learned from the numerous searches over the years that alcohol does have a negative impact on the lives and deaths of those who go missing.
Sadly Buck Tarbrush, morale is at an all time low on the team and the Trustees seem hell bent on destroying Surrey SAR from within. No one likes or trusts the Trustees except the few sycophants who are blinded by the bullshit. The Trustees all need to stand down and completely disassociate themselves from the team along with Jill Thorpe who is increasingly coming to our attention for the wrong reasons.
If you disagree with the Surrey SAR gin or the Surrey SAR beer then don’t buy it, don’t buy the products of those companies or visit their pubs. We won’t be buying any of their products now that we have an idea of their ethics.
The other day I was hanging out at The Citadel (Piers says I should just call it HQ like everyone else, but I don’t think that has enough gravitas), when Seamus came in looking like Simon had stolen his last krispy kreme.
I asked him what was wrong and it turned out that the old coronavirus hoohah has meant that we’ve been called out even less than usual, and lets face it – once you remove all the stand-downs, wrong numbers, self deployments and fictional searches that’s a pretty low number to start off with.
“But didn’t you tweet that we were busier than the whole of the rest of the UK added together the other day?” I asked.
“I lied, you fool!” He replied, somewhat brusquely. “I only do that to get people to donate money for the New SUV / New Court Case funds. You know as well as I do, we go out about as often as the Olympic blinking Flame.”
“Oh,” I said “That is a shame. I feel like a run out in The Interceptor, like when we used to do those crazy convoys down the M3..” I caressed my soft leather slingback driving gloves as I thought about it and let myself imagine the open road beneath our wheels, when..
“That’s it!” he cried “Sometimes it’s actually worth having you hang around here! Well, almost”. I just stared and tried to process what he meant. “What do you mean?” I just asked in the end.
“What I mean my not-very-nice-but-dim public schoolboy chum is this. We’ll round up the usual suspects – you, James, Tim, that dim ginger one who repeats what I say – all those guys – and we’ll have a road trip! Even better, we’ll say we have to do it to keep the vehicles in blue-light condition and try to screw some money out of the twitter morons!”
“So we’ll just drive around the M25 in a convoy for no reason, put it on social media and ask for money for it?” I asked.
“Got anything better to do on a Saturday afternoon?” he asked, knowing full well I didn’t. At least I’d be able to give The Interceptor a bit of a burn.
It is SURSAR’s tenth anniversary which is commendable, however a not so perfect 10 they also achieved this year was the Trustees have tried to hush up that they spent £10k of donated money on barristers & legal fees trying to cover their mistakes and dishonesty when dealing with a volunteer.
The Trustees knew they could never win yet proceeded at the charity’s expense and misled the Membership as to its necessity and progress. The matter could and should have been sorted out without resorting to barristers, however the Trustees were too arrogant, reckless and foolish to accept this and proceeded with an unwinnable claim.
Its not the first time charity money has been wasted on legal fees. Lets not forget that the Trustees of SURSAR did the same thing when acting as Trustees at Lowland Rescue at national level, spending thousands of pounds on a bogus legal case to try to oust the former chairman by making unfounded allegations.
Dr Piers Page and James Rossell were subsequently accused of fraud and theft by Lowland Rescue and had to step down. As usual Lowland Rescue are keeping quiet about this as they obviously don’t want the public or the members of the charities involved to know donations given in good faith are being spent on legal fees and not where intended. They too are keeping quiet about just how much was spent.
Presumably the Governors of the charities involved are happy for this level of spending to cover accusations of incompetence and fraud…
When people donate to SAR they expect the money to be used on equipment/repairs and running costs and not on legal fees where it would serve no purpose or benefit the charity. Families of the people who Surrey SAR have helped look for need to be asking to see the accounts to see where the money they raised really went and challenge the false promises that were made to them about how the money would be used. In fact anyone who has donated to SurSAR should be concerned about how their donation was used.
Over £17k was raised last year from supermarkets alone, not to mention the money raised by many other people who did charity fundraising events. Despite this they still had a £20k deficit and to spend £10k on legal fees is nothing short of a disgraceful mismanagement of charity funds.
The membership and public need to question whether the Trustees can be trusted. There needs to be constitutional change at Surrey SAR as Trustees should never be part of the management team as there is simply no accountability over management decisions regarding spending and leads to year on year financial deficits.
As long as Dr Piers Page, James Rossell and Seamus Kearns are Trustees the charity funds will always be mismanaged. One only has to look at their social media to see that despite financial deficits year after year with Dr Piers Page as Chairman they continue to buy an excessive amount of vehicles, each of which has running costs and are rarely used for SAR purposes due to the low level of callouts. It is hardly surprising that money is being haemorrhaged.
Surrey SAR Trustees could always do the sensible option which is to not break the law in the first place, that would help keep legal costs to zero as they historically were when it was a run as a friendly charity and not the pseudo business it is now. Your Victim Card has been declined.
Some of our readers may have seen that our article highlighting the concerns around Surrey SAR’s water rescue certification/training was raised on the Painshill Fire Station Unofficial Facebook page last night.
People are quite rightly angry and upset that Surrey SAR Trustees, SFRS, Surrey Police and Rescue 3 International are putting volunteers lives at risk and those of the public by deploying them into water without genuine training and certification. Others on the other hand seem to think that because they had a successful land search once that they can do no wrong, and fail to see the issues we are raising regarding water rescue and why we are doing so. Water is dangerous, very dangerous.
The organisations mentioned above have remained silent when the concerns were raised. Silence is not an option when lives are being put at risk.
This site needs to exist in order to get truth out, as Surrey SAR won’t allow it themselves and people are regularly hounded out for raising issues and concerns. If Surrey SAR, Lowland Rescue and other organisations dealt with concerns and had effective processes in place then this site would not need to exist. Silencing complainants is not an option.
Surrey SAR have put out this social media message as a result of Painshill’s post.
A few things to point out about this response, firstly we will also offer our thanks to Surrey SAR and all Lowland Rescue volunteers for the assistance they give trying to find missing people. We hope they keep up their work in SAR, stay safe and stay passionate. Remember we are not out to get the people who work hard and give their time to help people in need. There needs to be change and reform within Surrey SAR which we will press for. Remember, we want only the truth. If anything on this site is inaccurate or untrue, simply contact us anonymously through the email link, with any evidence, and we will amend it, its as simple as that.
Surrey SAR are still not addressing the issue of how James Rossell qualified as swift water rescue technician on the River Awe when he was not physically there. If there is an explanation then we will publish it, however as it stands it looks very suspicious and it is in the public interest that people know what is happening at Surrey SAR . The usual James Turnbull/ Seamus Kearns PR spin of this response demonstrates their typical response of playing the victim and trying to hide their wrong doing.
They mention pizza is reserved for certain occasions. They ordered £600 worth last year (and received a 50% discount) which is a lot of pizza. Whilst it is a very welcome “motivation” during a prolonged search where volunteers may not have eaten sufficiently beforehand, the Trustees/Management also order in pizza for pre-arranged meetings. This is an unacceptable waste of charity money. When people donate or run a marathon for SAR they don’t expect it will be spent on pizza for meetings or to pay >£10k legal legal fees to cover up Trustee mismanagement.
They are not being truthful or transparent regarding the “without payment” statement. Surrey SAR invoice Surrey Fire and Rescue Service several thousand pounds annually for a live streaming service to connect to drones. This streaming service is provided by Wirehive which is James Rossell’s (Trustee & Manager) company. He therefore makes money for his own company Wirehive as a direct result of SAR activity.
When Seamus Kearns (Trustee & Manager) was being paid by the charity for fundraising work, this was declared to the membership and declared in the annual report. Mr Rossell has not informed the membership of him making money for his company via SAR activity, nor is it declared on the financial accounts/annual report however he has notified SFRS of the conflict of interest.
We have many documents and AV recordings of Trustees honesty being called into question. The current Trustees need to stand down before it is necessary to release them.
There have been several large fires and major incidents in Surrey recently which have required neighbouring fire services to assist Surrey Fire and Rescue Service on a regular basis as they simply cannot cope due to lack of resources and firefighters due to the cuts made by Surrey County Council. It is leaving Surrey residents in a very vulnerable position when we have to rely on London Fire Brigade, Hampshire, Berkshire and Sussex Fire & Rescue Services to help out.
One post came to no surprise to us regarding Surrey SAR, in fact Surrey SAR volunteers were told not to comment on the post so as not to further damage the already fragile reputation between Surrey SAR and SFRS.
It is admirable that Surrey SAR helped out however SFRS needs its own firefighters to be trained and equipped for water rescues before more people lose their lives due to relying on SAR volunteers and the very obvious delays in getting resources to a scene.
On several occasions SFRS firefighters have complained to senior officers about the conduct of Surrey SAR from unprofessional and dangerous conduct including self deploying. It comes as no surprise to hear from SFRS that James Rossell and Seamus Kearns are the most complained about individuals in Surrey SAR by firefighters who really don’t like it when those two turn up.
The main concern of Surrey SAR’s water rescue team in this article is training & certification. Surrey SAR are now a Rescue 3 International training provider to deliver water rescue courses. During a recent audit by DEFRA the Surrey SAR water rescue team were requested to upload their Rescue 3 water rescue certificates. Several team members raised concerns over the authenticity of James Rossell’s qualifications.
Below is the certificate for James Rossell (Surrey SAR Trustee and member of the management team).
On the face of it it looks genuine and quite clearly implies that James Rossell completed all the requirements for a swift water and flood rescue technician during a course on 10/09/2018 on the River Awe in Scotland. These competencies have to be demonstrated in person and skill sheets are completed and signed off by the instructors. Mr Rossell’s skill sheets were recorded on 0932-0086137 and the instructor was Martin Blaker. If a lay person saw this certificate as evidence of qualification they would have no reason to doubt its authenticity.
However, James Rossell was NOT on that training course.
These are the people that attended
Surrey SAR’s Facebook from the time of the course has lots of photos of the people named above and NONE have Mr Rossell in them, only the people listed on D4H above. Everyone on that course knows that James Rossell did not attend it.
The instructor was Martin Blaker who holds senior roles in the RNLI and DEFRA. He also trains other Lowland Rescue teams. He is also a member of Surrey SAR although he doesn’t attend, has never been trained as a search technician. Mr Blaker was also a Trustee of Lowland Rescue.
Enquiries have been made with Rescue 3 regarding the authenticity of James Rossell’s certificate. Currently a check on their website (http://id.rescue3europe.com/) shows this
However, documentation seen by us from Rescue 3 confirms that it is a genuinely issued certificate and skill sheet 0932-0086137 was completed to support the certification.
As James Rossell was physically not on the course, he could not have demonstrated the skills to the instructor Martin Blaker. This raises integrity questions over Martin Blaker and James Rossell as to how this certificate is in existence.
Tim Rowsell is head of the water rescue team along with James Turnbull, both were on the course along with John Burrell who is also on the management team. Tim Rowsell works for the RNLI and is also a special constable in Surrey Police. He is fully aware of what is going on as many people in the water team raised concerns with him. With his RNLI and policing experience he should know the importance of training to high standards and what goes wrong if unqualified resources are used. Why is he not challenging James Rossell and the other Trustees? We expect better from a police officer and from someone in the RNLI.
Three of the management team were on that training course and none has challenged James Rossell over his certification. We expect better from all of the management team and this lack of challenging inappropriate/illegal behaviour illustrates why the Trustees and Management Team at Surrey SAR are not fit for purpose.
Steve Owen-Hughes (Chief Fire Officer of Surrey Fire and Rescue Service) is aware of this so why is he still allowing Surrey SAR to deploy to water rescue incidents when there are serious concerns over the authenticity of qualifications and training?
Would DEFRA and other organisations give Surrey SAR all of the financial grants if they knew that the qualifications were obtained in these circumstances?
Rescue 3 International are fully aware of what is going on at Surrey SAR and tried to cover it up by removing the bogus certificate from the database after initially confirming it was genuine. Can we trust Rescue 3 International as a training and qualification provider if false certification is issued and they don’t effectively deal with those bring their name into disrepute?
Can we trust Surrey SAR, Lowland Rescue and RNLI training qualifications if signed off by Martin Blaker?
The integrity of Mr Blaker is in question over this matter. He needs to explain how Mr Rossell has been certified as competent without attending the course and demonstrating the skills to him.
Can the public trust Lowland Rescue to provide water rescue assistance if their member units are not genuinely qualified?
There are many more questions surrounding this matter and it needs investigating further and the risk managing. Most importantly, are SFRS are putting lives at risk by using people from Surrey SAR with fraudulent qualifications? We think so and we think that SFRS and Surrey Police need to stop using Surrey SAR for water rescue until genuine proof of training can provided.
*** Rescue 3 declined to comment however they did state that if anyone who has received water rescue training from Surrey SAR or Martin Blaker wants to raise concerns in confidence with Rescue 3 they can contact Keith Dudhnath directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 01978 869069 ***
We have been contacted by a number of team members this week. Different teams, other ends of the country, but the same story. Tales of bullying, corruption, illegality and the same old faces doing the same old things. We have been asked not to publish two of the stories, but they wanted us to be aware of them, and of course we will respect that.
Although we don’t really want to become a counselling service for traumatised SAR volunteers, we are happy to listen and sympathise where we can. And if you want to just tell us about things without it being published, then we will always respect that.
Some behaviour we have been informed of is quite clearly a police matter, the same names have cropped up regarding inappropriate sexual conduct towards female team members. We would urge those of you who have raised concerns to contact your local police or report via Crimestoppers. Young female Lowland Rescue & Surrey SAR team members need to be aware that there is a risk to them when attending LRFR courses or on callouts/training sessions. “Banter” is not an excuse for inappropriate behaviour.
What we really want to do is act as a portal for getting information out of teams and into the public domain. We know that a lot of the culprits seem to show no shame, but here’s hoping that shining some light on their behaviour may make it uncomfortable for them
As always, the volunteers – the people that give up their time, time with families and mental health are not our target. This site merely provides an outlet for those who know that bad practice is occurring, but don’t want to be thrown out of their team for saying so.
The Search Dog Heroes project (SDH for short) is a million-pound funded project, working with Missing People and funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery. In short, it’s a lot of money, that has been generously donated by ordinary people, and in concept a pretty good idea. That concept was that 200 hundred dogs would be trained “to an operational standard” using this funding (as well as collecting and storing scent items off vulnerable people to help them be tracked in the case of an emergency). These 200 dogs would be “trailing” dogs, capable of following a specific scent derived from these boxes, as opposed to “air scenting” dogs that just detect any live or dead humans.
Part of the rationale for such a large sum of money being lobbed at the doggy set was that in all the years of training, arguing, dog-walking and setting standards in LR, zero trailing dogs had reached the required standard for deployment. Clearly a shake-up was required, and a big-money project seemed to be just what the doctor ordered.
With this much money at stake, the obvious criteria for a project lead would be:- someone who is heavily involved in Mountain Rescue, Lowland Rescue, Some Other Sort of SAR in the UK and who had a track record of working with and training trailing dogs, preferably with the Police in the UK. However, this was all a little too “obvious” for Lowland Rescue, who plumped instead for Ann-Jo Proos, who fits precisely none of these criteria.
She does however have a cosy relationship with the head of Surrey’s Dog Team. This was considered much more of a relevant factor than the fact that AJP is an individual with no operational experience, resides in France and, one might argue a dubious track record of training trailing dogs to any reasonable standard, but who is best mates with the Surrey Dog Clique.
Its worth just noting that AJP has never deployed a trailing dog operationally, and is certainly not well known for producing large quantities of trained trailing dogs. In fact, in the 2 years since the contract was awarded, only 2 teams have passed the assessment. One who provided accommodation to AJP on her visits to the UK, and the other based in the Channel Islands, who also stayed at the same address…
These double standards were in evidence again when a number of handlers were strong-armed into travelling to France to train at AJP’s “facility”, and charged an arm and a leg for the privilege. Of course, those in the ‘inner-circle’ were not charged at all.
So, what have we achieved with the million pound bung? To date, 2 dogs have been qualified (one of whom famously indicated at a spot covered by 360° CCTV, that the misper had clearly never visited). The standards required by LR to qualify are now laughably low, as they rush to pass their mates before the money runs out. There are numerous tales of cheating – helping and nobbling the right and wrong candidates, as determined by the assessors. Some assessors were recruited who had never even seen a trailing dog work, just to try to salvage something from the scheme.
There are talks of plenty of moves of handlers from team to team, which was always the case, usually as the result of bullying. But more disturbingly there is talk of individuals and even teams leaving the LR organisation, because the reputation has been so utterly damaged by this fiasco.
As always, this whistleblowing site isn’t here to knock those that give their time to serve their communities. It doesn’t harbour a grudge against the organisation, its aims or the majority of the staff. What it will continue to do is point out where money is being diverted or misused, where laws are being broken, where there is hypocrisy and especially where there is bullying. This story has a sprinkling of all of the above, and we’ll keep you posted on any progress. You never know, we may have 3 dogs qualified if they give us another million quid.