Tag Archives: cavra

Cardiff’s volunteering dogs – meet Bob

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Back in April 2012, we posted this great story from David Wills about volunteering for Civil Aid Voluntary Rescue Association (CAVRA) with his dog, Bob. We never posted all the photos from the photoshoot though … and there are some sweet ones. Check out Bob in his goggles, above!

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“CAVRA was founded in 1998 at a time when flooding was overwhelming the emergency services in Cardiff and the Vale,” says Dave. “It is an entirely voluntary search and rescue organisation, and a registered charity. Our purpose is to provide back-up personnel and frontline assistance to the Emergency Services (Police, HM Coastguard etc) in a range of situations, including searches for missing persons, during times of adverse weather conditions, natural disaster or civil emergency. We are a lowland search and rescue unit specialising in flood and swift water rescue as well as recovery. At present CAVRA has around 30 volunteers. We are highly trained in First Aid and some of us have specialist skills in land search, All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) rescue, dog handling and water rescue. We also have a Rescue Boat on permanent standby in Cardiff Bay.”

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About Bob – the rescue dog: “Bobby is my latest dog and the only dog I have trained in Search and Rescue. I rescued him myself from Croft Kennels in Bridgend. I was looking for a medium sized dog that I could train up as a Cadaver Dog. I ended up with a large boxer-cross who has an uncanny knack for finding the living! Boxers are not normally good search dogs but Bob is crossed with something (we don’t know what!), giving him some invaluable traits. Normally Search dogs are air sniffing tracker dogs trained to national standards.”

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Civil Aid Voluntary Rescue Association (CAVRA) are always looking for volunteers. No experience necessary. You provide the time – they provide the training. http://www.cavra.org

David and Bob were photographed on the Cardiff Bay Barrage by Doug Nicholls.

You are invited to: ‘We Are Cardiff: a Roath state of mind’ exhibition, 29 May – 2 July, Waterloo Teahouse

Friends, Cardiffians – it is our pleasure to invite you to our first localised exhibition, which is taking place in the heartland of Roath.

The boundaries of Roath spread further and run deeper than the thin lines on the map that separate it from surrounding Penylan, Cathays, Adamsdown, or even Splott. Roath is more than a place – it’s a state of mind, and we invite you to celebrate that with our first localised exhibition, featuring stories and photography of local residents who have been featured in the We Are Cardiff project.

You are invited to the launch party, on 1 June 2012. Come have a peek at the exhibition, and learn more about the film that we’re currently making about our fair city of Cardiff.

‘We Are Cardiff: a Roath state of mind’ exhibition
Waterloo Gardens Teahouse
Launch party: Friday 1 June 2012, from 6.15pm-8pm
Exhibition 29 May – 2 July 2012

www.wearecardiff.co.uk
www.waterlootea.com

RAFFLE PRIZES – UPDATE

A four-ball round of golf at St Pierre Golf Club in Chepstow (donated by Acorn Recruitment and Training

A speedboat trip for two around Cardiff Bay (donated by CAVRA)

A meal for two from the set menu at Ffresh (donated by Ffresh)

A luxury haircut (donated by the Constantinou salon)

A pair of trapeze taster session tickets (donated by NoFitState circus)

A meal for two in the Gallery Restaurant at the Grosvenor G Cardiff (donated by the Grosvenor G Casino)

A Fairtrade chocolate hamper (donated by Fairtrade Wales)

A print of Roath Park artwork (donated by Gayle Rogers)

A hand crocheted blanket (donated by Andrew Williams)

A framed print (donated by Jo Whitby)

A screenprinted t shirt (donated by Droneboy Laundry)

A bottle of champagne (donated by EstatesDirect Cardiff)

A screenprinted Shewolf t-shirt (donated by Spike Dennis)

A limited edition We Are Cardiff t-shirt

We’d like to say a very large thank you to ALL the sponsors who have donated prizes for this draw – you’re helping us out with a worthwhile project and we really appreciate your support.

So … more info on our lovely sponsors…

FFRESH. With stunning views of Cardiff Bay, a stylish and contemporary feel, and a wonderful seasonal menu showcasing the best of Welsh produce, ffresh Bar and Restaurant is catered to enhance your culinary dining experience.Excellent quality food and service is led by Executive Chef Kurt Fleming, along with consultancy expertise from Shaun Hill, Executive Chef at The Walnut Tree Inn at Abergavenny. The ffresh team have a great deal of experience to help you choose a menu that suits tastes and budget. All our menus have wonderful vegetarian options, and our Chefs are more than happy to cater for any special dietary requirements…
ffresh Restaurant is open Tuesday-Saturday 12 noon- 2.30pm; 5-9.30pm and Sundays 12 noon – 4pm. Please note that on Mondays, ffresh Restaurant is only open for pre-show dining. Whether you are visiting Cardiff bay for an afternoon, seeing a production at the Centre, or looking for a special evening dining experience book your table at the restaurant on 029 2063 6465 or ffresh@wmc.org.uk.

FAIRTRADE WALES. Did you know Wales is a fair trade country and Cardiff was the world’s first Fairtrade capital city? Fair trade is about creating opportunities for producers in the developing world to receive a fair price for their goods and to work their way out of poverty. Put simply, it is an opportunity for them to improve their lives and the lives of their families, and is as simple as the choices you make on your weekly shop.

ESTATES DIRECT – the 0% Commission Agent. At EstatesDirect we charge a fair fixed fee to sell or let your property.  To see how much you could save and find out more please visit our website. EstatesDirect Cardiff is owned and run by Paul and Helen Walters. We pride ourselves on offering excellent customer service throughout your property sale or let, from the initial FREE valuation, through to viewings and finally the sale or let of your property. We are local to Cardiff, and will offer expert advice on marketing your property to its greatest potential and to as many targeted buyers and tenants as possible.

JO WHITBY. Jo Whitby is an all-round creative type who likes to cram her days with as much arty/music/culture stuff as possible. I Know Jojo is where she freelances as an illustrator and artist doing all sorts of works from depicting classic Welsh myths to crowd surfing a Smart Car. You can also find Jo making music as Laurence Made Me Cry and sporadically updating a music and culture blog called Cat On The Wall.

SPIKE DENNIS. Spike is  a maker, an imaginator, a unicorn farmer & a Romanticist with a burning desire to understand that which lies beyond the stars but you can call him an artist for want of a better word. He has lived in Cardiff for five years and recently launched ProjectCardiff with co-conspirator Lann Niziblian. Spike will be exhibiting some collaborative work inspired by the Brothers Grimm fairy tales at St Donats Art Centre in the Vale of Glamorgan throughout June this year (full details available shortly)
More info at: www.spikeworld.co.uk / www.unicorn-porn.com

ANDREW WILLIAMS. Andy is a knitwear designer that has been knitting since 2004 and crocheting since 2009. He has free patterns available on his blog and Ravelry page, and some of his patterns are available to buy from Calon Yarns on Cowbridge Road East. Making blankets is an obsession he has. Blankets of all shapes, sizes and colours. “I’ve loved blankets since I was little. They make me feel safe and warm. A handmade blanket is even better, because not only are you getting a lovely handmade thing, you’re getting someone’s time – that’s a really precious thing to give. The blanket I’m making for We Are Cardiff is a giant granny square, which I will embellish with some appliquéd bits and bobs. It’s super colourful, hope someone colourful wins it!” See also: Ravelry

NOFITSTATE CIRCUS. No Fit State was founded in 1986 by five friends. During a politically charged time, in a recession, and as a creative reaction to the world around them, the circus was born. Twenty-five years later NoFit State still believes that the total outweighs the sum of the parts. The company lives together, works together, eats together, laughs and cries together – travelling in trucks, trailers and caravans and loving and breathing as one community. This is what creates the spirit that is NoFit State and gives the work its heart and soul. Contemporary circus combines live music, dance, stage design, text, and film with traditional circus skills. It is rooted in the travelling community who turn up, pitch a tent, drum up an audience, and then leave with only flattened grass and a memory to show they were ever there. The circus are the strangers who live amongst us – and if we run away to join them we are throwing off our inhibitions, our conventions, the rules of settled society. We are taking to the road knowing that there is no destination – only a journey.
Today, NoFit State is the UK’s leading large-scale contemporary circus company, producing professional touring productions and a wide variety of community, training, and education projects for people of all ages.

“Volunteering gives a great sense of satisfaction and achievement” – David

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I was born in Malta and spent my formative years in the West Country. I never expected to end up in Cardiff, but I have spent all my working and volunteering life in the city since 1996.

Equipped with a Master’s degree from Sussex University I began my new life here as a Social Scientist at Cardiff University. My existence as a young academic proved less than exhilarating so being a recent business graduate I decided to set up my own Cardiff-based security company. In order to accrue the relevant experience I embarked upon a series of assignments in a variety of private security companies in tandem with the odd specialist course. I took one-on-one boxing and martial arts classes under the auspices of my ex-military friends – who were already on “the circuit” – along with some close protection and surveillance courses.

Looking back this was an exciting time in a prosperous city and I was young and fearless. I worked as a bouncer at the Metro Bar in Charles Street for a while. Bizarrely this was with a Welsh friend who did the same degree as me when I was at Plymouth University a couple of years earlier. He had also gone on to do a Master’s making us the most educated bouncers in Cardiff with four degrees between us! John continues to manage the doors around Cardiff, despite earning a fair old whack as a Health & Safety Consultant, albeit with a black belt in Aikido. I was also a ‘bodyguard’ for a while working for media clients in Cardiff (which is not half as exciting as it sounds), a ‘private detective’ for a local solicitor (surveillance and serving writs) and even a ‘store detective’ in some of Cardiff’s most high risk shops (mainly arresting professional shoplifters in the city).

It quickly became clear that if I was ever to progress in the private security industry with the “right stuff” I would need some form of military experience. To that end I joined my local volunteer Territorial Army Unit for three years and went on to become a Cadet Instructor for a year. This was where the volunteer bug really took hold…

On doing a bit of research into local volunteering at the Wales Council for Voluntary Action’(WCVA, Fitzalan Place) I noticed that the Cardiff And Vale Rescue Association (CAVRA) were looking for volunteers right on my Cardiff Bay doorstep. The rest, as they
say, is history!

I started as a team member 10 years ago and have progressed up the ranks to a Trustee and Director. I knocked the idea of starting up a company on the head and paid the mortgage with a job at the Assembly. Though I would never be rich I would be making a difference to the local community doing something I loved – if only part-time. When money is not the motivation a different side of the human condition emerges…

CAVRA was founded in 1998 at a time when flooding was overwhelming the emergency services in Cardiff and the Vale. It is an entirely voluntary search and rescue organisation, and a registered charity. Our purpose is to provide back-up personnel and frontline assistance to the Emergency Services (Police, HM Coastguard etc) in a range of situations, including searches for missing persons, during times of adverse weather conditions, natural disaster or civil emergency. We are a lowland search and rescue unit specialising in flood and swift water rescue as well as recovery. At present CAVRA has around 30 volunteers. We are highly trained in First Aid and some of us have specialist skills in land search, All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) rescue, dog handling and water rescue. We also have a Rescue Boat on permanent standby in Cardiff Bay.

Career highlights include receiving a volunteer of the year award in 2007 for getting police officers to work using 4x4s when the snow had closed most of the roads. I was also a Rescue Boat Medic when one of world’s most dangerous events the Motor Ski-ing Championships came to Cardiff Bay. I have previously been a Director of Training and Public Relations but my current role is Director of Aquatic Operations and Specialist Aquatic Body Recovery (SABR). I essentially fulfill four roles as a Rescue Boat Coxswain, rescue swimmer, medic and dog handler.

Bobby is my latest dog and the only dog I have trained in Search and Rescue. I rescued him myself from Croft Kennels in Bridgend. I was looking for a medium sized dog that I could train up as a Cadaver Dog. I ended up with a large boxer-cross who has an uncanny knack for finding the living! Boxers are not normally good search dogs but Bob is crossed with something (we don’t know what!), giving him some invaluable traits. Normally Search dogs are air sniffing tracker dogs trained to national standards.

Bob has been obedience trained externally but Search trained in-house (we also have Newfoundlands and St Bernards trained by our own dog trainers). He works as an off-lead Search and Return dog. If he senses something, or someone, who shouldn’t be in a given area he ‘points’ (snout down, right leg up, tail straight). If he sees a motionless human he will ‘approach’ and lick their face and paw their chest. If there is no response he will ‘return’ to me or the nearest team member. He also does his ‘Chief Moral Officer’ bit when the team is tired and the waiting relatives are anxious – a waggy tail and a pat on the head work wonders especially when the Newfs and St Bernard’s want to play.

Five year old Bobby thinks it’s an elaborate game. To him, all missing people are a reliable source of cheese or treats which require his personal attention. Though when he has his ‘uniform’ on he seems to enter a different mode of thinking – I think he knows he’s working at some level. He lives with me at my Cardiff Bay flat. His hobbies are loudly sighing, competitive begging for food and endurance sleeping. And they say dogs turn into their owners..!

Volunteering gives a great sense of satisfaction and achievement. It also gives you a window on Cardiff you would never ordinarily get a chance to look through.

There is of course a darker side to Search and Rescue. The harsh reality is that there are some missing people who you will not reach in time. Some have been missing for so long that exposure will have claimed them. Increasingly people want to take their own lives. No matter what the situation, CAVRA strives to provide some form of closure for the family and loved ones involved. Saving a life is the highest calling a volunteer can be asked to undertake but we always prepare for the worst case scenario.

Previous generations may have called this the ‘Dunkirk spirit’ – but people still come and volunteer when needed and they are often the un-sung heroes. They do it because they care about their community and the people in it. They want to put something back.

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David Wills works at the National Assembly in Cardiff Bay where he is jointly employed as a Senior Policy Advisor to the Welsh Conservative’s Policy Director and a Political Aide to the Deputy Presiding Officer and Member for South Wales Central. He was formerly a Social Scientist at Cardiff University and is currently a Member of the Association of Business Psychologists, where his research interests include: Organisational Psychology, Psychological Hardiness, Leadership Profiling, Situational Awareness and the Development of Performance Indicators for Elite Groups such as Endurance Athletes, Specialist Police Units and Special Forces. In his spare time he writes screenplays and books on the theme of Psychological Resilience and Leadership.

Civil Aid Voluntary Rescue Association (CAVRA) are always looking for volunteers. No experience necessary. You provide the time – they provide the training. http://www.cavra.org

David and Bob were photographed on the Cardiff Bay Barrage by Doug Nicholls. To see the rest of the photos from the shoot, see Doug’s We Are Cardiff set on Flickr.

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