A Special Constable who has devoted thousands of hours to developing and transforming the deployment of search and rescue teams has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.
Special Constable Kevin Saunders has been recognised for policing services provided to rural communities of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
The 37-year-old was instrumental in the setup of Britain’s first collaborative Special Constable Search and Rescue team, a model which is now being replicated in forces across the country.
The specialist team provides an immediate boots on the ground response capability, including specially trained dogs, to assist in the search for vulnerable missing people.
Kevin has devoted seven years to volunteering and developing search and rescue, combining it with his day job as an alarms engineer.
He leads and provides rigorous training to his team of Special Constable volunteers, coordinating 24 hour a day, seven days a week availability – with more than 250 personal deployments himself, to date.
His dedication and hard work has now led to him being awarded an MBE.
Kevin said: “I am absolutely honoured. It’s not something you expect to receive. It’s recognition for me doing something that I am massively passionate about.
“I am so proud of the work the Special Constable Search and Rescue team has done.
“Personally, I have been involved in search and rescue for about 14 years now, and I always wanted to be a police officer.
“While serving in the Territorial Army and completing a seven month tour of Iraq, I had seen working dogs and when I got back I knew I wanted to work with dogs myself.
“It’s been a whirlwind ever since.”
Kevin currently has two Border Collie working dogs, who assist him in the search for missing persons – 11-year-old Zak and three-year-old Rusty.
As part of his duties, he gives up his spare time to help search in rural locations across the county.
His hard work has led to him being recognised by the PDSA in 2015, after he and Zak saved a man’s life, and a Dogs Trust Honour award nomination in 2012 after locating a vulnerable elderly person in a remote location.
He said: “My real passion is search and rescue and I want to push the boundaries of what the Special Constabulary do and how they assist.
“For me, there is a real feeling of pride when we are able to get someone’s loved one home. We are just a small part in a larger team effort to save lives.
“One search Zak and I assisted with that sticks in my mind is when we helped locate a vulnerable male who had dementia.
“He was caught on some barbed wire and Zak was able sniff him out and locate him.
“Joining the Special Constabulary is a true challenge, but ultimately it serves the people of Hampshire.
“I work with some of the most committed special constables within our search team, who consistently show the highest levels of professionalism.
“The Special Constabulary is a true adventure, alongside the best colleagues, and I would recommend it to anyone considering a voluntary career.”
Congratulating Kevin on his honour, Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney said: “I would like to give my personal congratulations, and those of all his colleagues across the Constabulary, to Kevin.
“His work and influence is well known throughout the force and amongst the Search and Rescue team.
“Kevin’s dedication and unstinting efforts have seen him involved in many deployments and working extended hours, sometimes in extreme weather conditions and often after a full day’s work.
“His award reflects so highly on all of our Special Constabulary and the important role they play.”