Border Search and Rescue Unit members are joined by colleagues in an RAF Sea King

Border Search and Rescue Unit members are joined by colleagues in an RAF Sea King

A rescue team has topped a poll to take the honours in a UK-wide competition.

Border Search and Rescue Unit won the Rural Community Champions award, beating more than 100 other organisations nominated for the accolade.

The annual contest, held by nationwide business Agrii, recognises contributions to rural life. BSARU operates in the largely rural area covering the Eastern Borders, Lammermuir and Cheviot Hills, and is often called in to assist other teams throughout Scotland and the North of England.

In January alone the team of volunteers were called out on five occasions, in appalling weather conditions, to search for missing or stranded walkers – equating to 412 man hours over and above their normal working day.

Most members juggle working full-time with their volunteering duties for the BSARU. Police Scotland relies heavily on the team as a resource to search for missing people in rural areas and members of the unit are trained to the same search standard as specialist police units, in addition to the specialised technical rescue and outdoor medical expertise that mountain rescue demands.

Stuart Fuller-Shapcott, who is the team leader for BSARU and has volunteered with the team for 24 years, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won this competition.

“All of our team members give up their time for fundraising, training and callouts when needed, so they are very grateful to receive this acknowledgement. We now need to replace one of our 4×4 ambulances, at a cost of at least £50,000, so every penny helps us towards this.

“We have spent the last few weeks providing first aid cover at a large number of local events, so it’s fantastic to have this recognition from the public. On behalf of all the team, we would like to sincerely thank everybody who voted for us.”

Mark Thomas, Agrii’s head of marketing, said: “We would like to congratulate BSARU on its very deserving win; they are true Rural Community Champions. We had an excellent overall response to our competition and it’s clear to see that there are many people making a big difference to their communities. ”