The Severn Area Rescue Association

The Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA) is our chosen charity once again this year and they will benefit from the proceeds of the two showcase concerts which take place on Friday and Saturday evenings of the Festival itself.

SARA is an Inshore Lifeboat and Land-based Search and Rescue organisation operating over the whole navigable length of the River Severn including its tidal estuary and the surrounding areas. SARA volunteer crews provide a 24/7 Search and Rescue Service, 365 days of the year and often work closely with other services such as RAF Search and Rescue and teams from the Police, Fire and Ambulance services.


SARA is a registered charity (No: 505504) funded entirely by public donations.


SARA currently has four Lifeboat and Search & Rescue stations: Beachley, Sharpness, Tewkesbury and Wyre Forest.


SARA is the largest of the non-RNLI lifeboat organisations around the UK coast which number around seventy five.


SARA crew members are all unpaid volunteers and the organisation has no paid staff. Prospective operational members are required to serve a specified minimum probationary period before election for operational membership. There are several categories of non-operational membership for anyone prepared to assist the Association with fundraising, administration or by contributing a specialist skill, for example. A non-operational member is not declared available for callout and is not expected to undertake operational duties. Junior members (aged 15 – 18) are not permitted to undertake operational activities.


SARA’s Beachley and Sharpness crews are tasked by HM Coastguard to incidents in the Severn Estuary and upper reaches of the Bristol Channel. All SARA stations have crews trained and experienced in Swiftwater Rescue Techniques and our teams form part of the DEFRA National Flood Response capability. SARA is tasked by Police, Ambulance and Fire & Rescue Services to undertake or assist with search and rescue activities ashore, on inland waterways and when flooding occurs.


SARA crew member training sessions are held twice a week, every week, to maintain the broad spectrum of skills necessary to ensure that a trained and experienced crew can always be deployed at short notice, whatever the nature of the emergency. Operational members are required to attend a specified minimum number of training sessions to maintain their status.

Key Dates in the History of SARA:

SARA was founded in 1973, at Tutshill, Chepstow, near the current Beachley station. SARA became a registered charity in 1976 and its first boat was purchased in 1977.


In 1985 SARA Beachley became a Mountain Rescue Post for cliff rescue in the Wye valley.


In 1986 a second Lifeboat and Rescue Station was opened at Sharpness in response to a tragic loss of life in the river near Sharpness in two separate incidents. On both occasions Chepstow boats could not reach the area in time to effect a rescue due to the low state of the tide.


In 2005, SARA Wyre Forest was established near Kidderminster.


Following the 2007 floods, SARA decided to form a new station in Tewkesbury. The station opened in October 2009 and is SARA’s fourth, now sharing accommodation and facilities with Gloucester Fire and Rescue Service.


In 2008, a new boathouse and slipway was constructed at Sharpness to house the station’s primary lifeboat on a dedicated cradle and launch tractor system.


In 2010, the station building at Beachley was extended to provide improved boat storage and crew training facilities, allowing all rescue vehicles to be garaged in the old boat storage areas.


In 2012, a new state-of-the-art primary lifeboat, the ‘Dave Moore’, was commissioned at Sharpness. The ‘Dave Moore’ is always launched from her dedicated cradle via the slipway.


In 2014, the >100yr old hand operated dockside crane at Sharpness was updated with a modern hydraulic crane to facilitate faster launching of smaller rescue craft direct from the quayside.


In December 2014, SARA acquired a rescue Hovercraft based at Sharpness to improve our ability to reach large areas of the estuary which dry out at low water. Crew training commenced immediately and the hovercraft is planned to be available for operational duty early in 2015.

Registered Office: The Lifeboat Station, Beachley, Chepstow, Monmouthshire, NP16 7HH


Lifeboat & Rescue Stations at Beachley, Sharpness, Tewkesbury and Wyre Forest




Registered Charity No. 505504

Enquiry Line:- 08448 460 226  

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