A SEARCH and rescue dog trainer was surprised with the presentation of an Unsung Hero award during a visit to the team's base by the High Sherriff of Cornwall last week.

Kate Holborow DL,was welcomed to the West Cornwall Search and Rescue team's base in United Downs last Friday for a socially distanced tour carried out by a small group of call-out members, trustees and support team members.

As well as the tour of the base, the High Sheriff of Cornwall made a surprise presentation to team member Matt Stone, with the Unsung Hero Award for Services to the Community.

Matt, as well as being a call-out member in the team since 2018, is a qualified Swift Water Rescue Technician and Cas-Carer. He has also been volunteering as a dogsbody with Mountain Rescue Search Dogs England for the past few years, and is currently on the journey to train an air-scented search dog (Merryn).

He regularly travels hundreds of miles to work alongside other search dog handlers across the region, helping to develop his, and Merryn’s skill-set and knowledge.

Chairman, Andy Brelsford said, ‘Matt is a very busy man with a new baby and his own design business to occupy his time. However, he still manages to find space to volunteer and, as well as being an active call-out member with our team, he can be also found teaching the next generation of lifeguards at his local Surf Lifesaving Club and helping the NHS as a Community First Responder, on top of other volunteering roles in the community.

‘Matt also has a key role behind the scenes. He is our PR lead, managing our social media and putting hours of his own time and money into designing the look and feel of the team branding.’

The High Sheriff of Cornwall said, ‘It was a privilege to visit West Cornwall Search & Rescue Team today and meet some of the team, including one of the newest members Merryn, an air-scented rescue dog currently one year into her very rigorous training.

‘I was delighted to present an Unsung Hero Award to Merryn’s trainee Search Dog Handler. As well as giving up his time as a member of the team, he is dedicating numerous hours and personal expense to Merryn’s training, often travelling around the country for specialist training weekends. Thank you Matt.

‘Like its sister in the east, West Cornwall Search & Rescue is an independent charity which relies on fund raising to keep delivery of its awesome service.‘

Unsung Hero, Matt, said: ‘It’s an honor to receive this prestigious award from the High Sheriff of Cornwall. But it is a real team effort, and I collect it on behalf of everyone involved in West Cornwall Search & Rescue Team, as well as all of those from Mountain Rescue Search Dogs England, SWAST, Surf Life Saving Great Britain, the RNLI and the other organisations and charities that I am grateful to be associated with.’