VOLUNTEER lifesavers from the Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA) were called out to 109 incidents in 2019.

SARA operates on both land and sea, and is considered the largest multi-disciplinary search and rescue organisation in the UK.

Last year's missions included more than 50 lifeboat call-outs and 41 land searches.

The volunteer group, which has lifeboat stations in Newport and along the Severn Estuary, regularly works alongside the emergency services.

One of the Newport station's most complex call-outs last year included the recovery of a speedboat which had come loose under the town bridge before getting stuck and swamped by the rising tide.

It took two rescue crews, from SARA lifeboat 14 and SARA Rescue 19, to save the vessel from going under.

The organisation has also been involved in several missions on the rivers Usk and Severn to find and rescue people who had got into difficulty in the water.

In July, SARA was called out to seven incidents in quick succession – ranging from searches for the occupants of a capsized boat, to helping find missing persons from coastal villages.

And in October, SARA boats were called into action in Skenfrith, northern Monmouthshire, when widespread flooding from the River Monnow meant 50 residents had to be evacuated from their homes.

That same night, a SARA crew also rescued two elderly people from their car, which had become almost completely submerged in the flood water.

Mike Duggan, deputy chairman of Newport Lifeboat Station, said 2019 had been "another busy year across all our stations".

"As an organisation where all members are volunteers, this shows the level of commitment to respond when the pager sounds," Mr Duggan added. "I would like to thank not only all our volunteers, but their families who accept the running out of the door as normal life.

"I’d also like to thank everyone who has supported the organisation - as a charity without your donations and support we would not be able to function and continue our lifesaving work.”