Pictured far right is Emerson Smith, general manager at Toyota Morecambe and second from right is Ian Graham, East Lancashire market area general manager at Vantage Toyota, handing over the Toyota Hilux to Morecambe Bay Search & Rescue
Vantage Motor Group is helping one of the UK’s busiest search and rescue teams to continue its life-saving work by donating a specialist, new all-terrain vehicle that can operate in hostile and challenging environments.
As part of a two-year sponsorship agreement, Vantage Toyota Morecambe is providing a Toyota Hilux to the renowned Morecambe Bay Search and Rescue (BSAR) organisation to replace its aged Land Rover 130. Impressed by the capabilities of the model, acknowledged as the world’s most rugged and reliable vehicle, BSAR has also purchased an additional Hilux from Vantage with publicly donated funds and proceeds from its two charity shops in Milnthorpe and Grange over Sands.
BSAR was founded in 1999 and specialises in rescue and recovery from quicksand, floods, snow and inaccessible areas during extreme weather. It also searches for missing persons and assists Cumbria and Lancashire fire services, the Police and HM Coastguard across the Morecambe Bay, Lake District and North Lancashire area.
Morecambe Bay is the largest expanse of intertidal mud flats and sand in the UK, covering 120 sq miles. The bay is notorious for its quicksand and fast tide which is said to come in ‘as fast as a galloping horse’.
The dangers were dramatically highlighted in 2004 when 23 immigrant Chinese cockle pickers drowned after being cut off by the rapidly advancing tides. BSAR were one of many teams involved in the rescue and recovery operation.
BSAR is highly regarded nationally and as a DEFRA accredited flood rescue team has been called upon to operate ‘out of area’ including despatching its specialist teams anywhere in the UK that they may be required in times of severe flooding.
BSAR has 25 frontline operational volunteers who combine specialist training and knowledge of the area to support local emergency services. The team is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Since it was formed, the team has attended around 500 rescue missions and receives up to 50 calls outs per year.
Vantage has a strong presence in the North West and has focused on Morecambe as an area to grow its operations in recent years. In 2015 it invested over £750,000 in building a state-of-the-art Toyota showroom in Morecambe, relocating its operations in the area from Grange-over-Sands.
Mark Robinson, managing director of Vantage, said: “Our partnership with Morecambe Bay Search and Rescue represents our commitment to the Morecambe Bay area and we couldn’t think of a better cause to support.
“The team at BSAR do an incredible job attending over 50 rescue missions a year. Their work genuinely saves lives and we are proud and delighted to be able to help them continue with their vital work.”
Paul Calland, Deputy Station Officer at Morecambe Bay Search and Rescue, said:
“As we are entirely funded by public donations and fundraising activities, we’ve been on the lookout for a major business to support us over the next two years and help us to replace our old rescue vehicles.
“We’re incredibly grateful to Vantage for providing us with two state-of-the-art Toyota Hilux vehicles and for helping us on our mission to make the area around Morecambe Bay a safer place to live and visit.”