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Our People, Our Team

Everyday people, everyday jobs, extraordinary volunteers.

All of our team give up their free time and skills to help give something back to the community. They receive no recognition or pay for this life saving work.

To become operational, as well as having the suitable level of fitness, our team members have to train and be nationally assessed to Lowland Rescue standards in first-aid, navigation, water safety and search techniques. Many of our team also extend their skills even further by completing courses in search planning and management, K9 first-aid and other related training.

It takes time, effort and dedication to become an operational member of any SAR team. Every team member is regularly re-assessed to ensure the standards are maintained.

Meet the team below. If you have any questions, then please see our F.A.Q page. If you want further information on how to join or contribute to the team, then please see our Join Us page.

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Meet the team

Steve Ball

Level 3 Dog handler

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Steve lives near Petersfield and is an Environmental Health & Safety Engineer for a large multinational company. Steve has been with the team since 2007 and has trained and worked two search dogs, retiring his first search dog Morgan after eight years operational service. His current qualified dog is Cain.

Sharon Plowright

Call-out coordinator and Police Liaison
Search Technician

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Sharon was an intensive care nurse for many years and is now a lecturer at Southampton University. Sharon has now been with the team for over 10 years. Sharon enjoys teaching the new handlers and their dogs and takes responsibility for overseeing their initial training. My current trainee dog is Izzy.

June Felstead

Level 2 Dog handler

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June retired from the Ambulance Service and moved to Eastbourne in 2009. She has been with the team since 2012. As well as being a dog handler June is also a Team Leader and is currently Secretary for the team. She also helps with Fundraising events. “It is very rewarding to be a volunteer for such a great cause and to be able to take your dog too!!” June’s current qualified dog is Molly.

Lu Dash

Search Manager
Search Technician

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Lu joined the team in July 2013. Professionally Lu works for a Sussex based charity working with adults with learning disabilities as Head of Support. ‘There is a lot of synergy between my professional role and volunteering role, however my volunteering role has the added bonus of being outside and working with some fabulous dogs - and their owners!’

Darren Yeates

Vice-chairman, PR, Social, Technology
Level 3 Dog Handler

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Darren joined the team in September 2014 after completing the beginner and intermediate search courses at Sussex County Dog Training. After becoming a Search Technician in December 2014, Darren and his Springer Spaniel Millie became an operational Level 2 search dog team in November 2015 and a level 3 team in June 2018. Darren is also the teams ‘geek’ and maintains the team website, handles team PR & social media and is radio communications SME. He works for RBS as a Agile Transformation Lead, enjoys trail running and is a Hang Glider pilot. He lives in Worthing.

Follow Darren and Millie on Twitter @searchdogmillie

Steve Woods

Level 2 Dog Handler

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Steve started his search career by joining the North Sussex Search Team back in 2010, a Neighbourhood team trained and backed by Sussex Police. He saw an ad on Facebook for Search and Rescue dog training and thought his dog Ace would like to have a go! They completed and passed the basic and intermediate courses in 2013 and Steve and Ace were invited to join the team. Steve is a father of 2 boys and lives in Crawley. His ‘day’ job is to maintain all the baggage systems at Gatwick Airport. His other hobbies are snowboarding and playing with Land Rovers.

Follow Steve and Ace on Twitter @searchdogace

Jeff Sasse

Dog training consultant

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Jeff is a professional dog trainer and a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT). Jeff is passionate about positive reinforcement training methods that build on the relationship between the dog and their owners. Jeff is a committee member and the Treasurer for the team. Jeff is also partner and owner of Sussex County Dog Training who run the teams beginner and intermediate search courses.

Nicola Gaffney

Occasional Missing Person

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Nicola joined the team in 2017 as a Supporter, helping out with fundraising and being the occasional missing person. She took on the role of team Secretary in August 2018, and hasn't regretted it.  Yet!  Hiding in the woods in the wet and dark is a nice change of pace from being a Commercial Negotiator for an IT multinational, which basically means sitting at her desk arguing for a living.  Outside of the team Nicola enjoys spending time with her dog, Corky, cooking and making things out of fabric.

Sally Bourn

Trainee Dog Handler
Search Technician & Medical SME

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Sally joined the team in 2016 and became an operational search tech in Feb 2017. She works in a residential school for pupils with Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties. Sally enjoys the outdoor life style, walking, camping and adrenalin based activities. She is currently training Harley, an English Springer Spaniel, to become an operational search dog.

Liz Daddy

Trainee Ground Scenting Dog handler
Search Technician

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Liz joined the team in August 2017. She is passionate about dogs, and owns two working cockers (not search trained) and a Black and Tan Coonhound, Deek, who is in training as a ground scenting dog.
Liz self studied dog psychology and was certificated in 2006. She has worked for Sussex Police for the last 20 years and hopes to utilise these skills on the team.

Justine Miller

Trainee Dog handler
Search Technician

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Justine joined the team in the summer of 2013 and qualified as a search technician in November 2013. She works in sales and technical training for outdoor clothing company Paramo and enjoys hiking and cycling. She is training her flat-coated retriever, Rowan, towards qualification.

Jae Wilkes

Search Technician

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Jae joined the team in 2016. She recently retired from 15 years in the Ambulance service and prior to that she was a fire fighter for 10 years. Jae has a Border Collie named Skye who is not a search dog.

Anna Nussey

Search Technician

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Anna is a professional dog trainer and qualified children's nurse. Previously she has worked at Sussex County Dog Training, Dog A.I.D and Canine Partners, she now works at Dogs Trust in Shoreham. She originally joined the team in 2011 and was an operational search technician but had a break of 4 years to train as a children's nurse in London. Now back to her passion of dog training and returned to Sussex she is pleased to be back with Search Dogs Sussex.

Nigel Kingston

Search Technician

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Nigel is an IT Service Manager for a London council and lives in East Grinstead. He joined the team in September 2015 and completed the beginners search course with his cocker spaniel Maggie. Nigel took the hard decision to stop Maggie's search training as his lengthy daily commute did not allow him to give Maggie enough practice time to progress. He continues as an operational Search Technician supporting the operational dog handlers on live searches and putting the navigation skills he learned as a teenager in the Air Training Corp to good use. His wife says he's a “Map Geek”.

Steve Bavin

Team Leader, Training Officer
Search Technician & Search Manager

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Steve started search & rescue in 2005 as a Search Technician and now with over a decade of search experience is a Team Leader, Search Manager and a national assessor. He currently works as a Motorway Technology Engineer in Hampshire and when he isn’t at work or searching he enjoys walking and camping with his wife Michelle.

Michelle Bavin

Non-operational Team Supporter
Occasional Missing Person

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Chelle lives in Havant and works for BAE Systems as a Project Accountant. She joined the team in August 2017 in a supporting role. Her claim to fame is losing 9 stone with Slimming World.

Richard Betts

Search Technician

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Richard is a Search Technician on the team.  After 15 years in the Fire Service he now focuses his time on his outdoor business Pied A Terre Adventures.  Richard is an Aspirant International Mountain Leader and working/studying towards completing the programme which provides him the opportunity to explore the mountains overseas.  Being part of the team allows Richard to still support the community.  In his spare time he enjoys the outdoors (running, climbing and walking) photography and spending time with his family and their dog. Richard lives in Billingshurst.

Chris Wilson

Trainee Dog handler

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Chris joined the team in January 2019. He lives in Hove. Chris has been around dogs all his life in one way shape or form and has a real passion for the outdoors. Chris is at his happiest outside in the wilderness. His “day job” is a Business Analyst at Legal and General, but spends all his spare time escaping into the outdoors. He enjoys walking, climbing, training his dog & martial arts

Melanie Taylor

Trainee Dog handler
Trainee Search Technician

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Melanie joined the team in February 2018 and loves being out in the countryside. The combination of working with like-minded people, all the fabulous dogs, and the thought of possibly being able to help someone in need, makes Search Dogs the ideal choice. Melanie is training her dog Shanti.

Vicky Grylls

Level 2 Dog Handler

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Vicky has worked with rescue dogs since she was 16 and even now it still puts a smile on her face watching them go to their new homes. She is a keen photographer (no prizes for guessing her favourite subject!). Vicky also like growing her own veg and spending as much time as possible walking her dogs in the countryside.

Karl Thacker

Search Technician

Awaiting profile

Magda Wilson

Trainee Search Technician

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Liam Eccarius

Trainee Search Technician

Awaiting profile

Alison Gregory

Trainee Ground Scenting Dog handler

Awaiting profile

Carol Jobson

Trainee Dog handler

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Carol taught sport, outdoor education and life skills to special needs students, now retired. She currently volunteers at a private hospital, Horder centre, and Uckfield food bank. Carol enjoys reading, walking her dogs, going to the cinema and theatre and trips away her camper van.

Ali Hollingbery

Trainee Dog handler

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Ali loves being outside and with people which makes Search and Rescue an excellent counterfoil to her work as a Headhunter where she’s trapped in an office. Ali joined the team in November 2018 having previously been a Search Controller and Team Leader with Wiltshire Search and Rescue, a Dog Handler with Search Dog Archie and Hampshire Search Dogs and an Instructor and Assessor with the UK Lowland Search Institute. She finds the study of missing person behaviour fascinating. When not searching for people (either excellent candidates or those missing) Ali enjoys beekeeping, singing and travelling. Ali’s current dog is Trainee Search Dog Erik, a Wirehaired Vizsla who spends most of his time trying to grow into his paws.
We provide nationally qualified volunteer search dog teams to help find missing and vulnerable people.