Major donation to support London search and rescue teams

W Bro John Little SLGR investigates


A major donation of £251,500 has been made by the London Freemasons’ Charity to London Search and Rescue (LONSAR), a Lowland Rescue team assisting the Metropolitan Police in searches for vulnerable missing persons.


LONSAR is a registered charity staffed totally by volunteers with no funding from the government, local authorities, or other emergency services. In 2021, the charity’s services represented a value of nearly £500,000 to the London Metropolitan Police.


According to the charity, in 2019/2020, more than 55,000 missing person reports were filed with the Metropolitan Police in London, of which 22,000 were young people under the age of 18. The vulnerable members of London’s communities that are most likely to go missing are children, elderly adults with dementia, or someone who may be considering taking their own life. 



A key feature in the success of the charity’s search and rescue operations in saving lives is the speed of the response to a lost person in an emergency. The sooner a vulnerable missing person is found and receives prompt and appropriate medical care, the better their chances of survival.


An important element of LONSAR’s search operations is the use of incident control vehicles. The London Freemasons’ Charity donation will allow the charity to purchase two new fully equipped vehicles. Not only are they furnished with powerful search technology, but they also provide a base for teams during searches that can last for days. The new vehicles are fully ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) compliant, which means that team can comply with the Mayor of London’s strategy to tackle the climate emergency, saving LONSAR over £3,000 per year in operational expenditure, as well as offering greater efficiencies in fuel costs. The vehicles are on order and are due to be delivered early in 2023.




In addition to the day-to-day benefits that the new vehicles will bring to the team, the LFC donation is an exciting step for LONSAR in offering an important support to the growth of the team. As a member unit of Lowland Rescue, which comprises a network of 36 regional units and over 1800 members across the UK, the charity works cooperatively with the teams that surround London and beyond and provides the facility to call on them if required. Lowland Rescue’s national role is part of the UK Search and Operators Group appointed by the Government’s Department for Transport


There are currently 130 LONSAR volunteer crews spread across London, providing cover across all 32 London boroughs. The volunteers operate through a series of highly trained teams which include foot search, dog search, water search, bike search, and, more recently, air search using drones. The charity is on-call 24/7, 365 days a year, working in all weathers to provide life-saving services for the 10 million people who live, work and travel in London. In addition, to save and rescue duties, LONSAR crews are also deployed to assist agencies such as the London Resilience Forum in providing safety services to the community.




Commenting on the donation, Chairperson of LONSAR Paul Lewis MBE said: “The mission of LONSAR is to deliver the highest standard of search and rescue capability to assist the emergency services in ending preventable loss of life in London. LONSAR is currently piloting direct support to NHS hospitals in London with open or wooded areas nearby. We are also trialing a method of direct Basic Command Unit (BCU) call-out with the Metropolitan Police alongside our current remit with Police Search Advisors. For this, we need the latest in specialist equipment and training, and we are very grateful for the generous donation from the London Freemasons’ Charity, which will go a long way towards helping fund this.”



All images in this article ©LONSAR all rights reserved

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 50 December 2022 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.

Read more articles in the Arena Issue 50 here.