The sea-going CAVRA rigid inflatable boat is not dissimilar to a proper RNLI lifeboat - but doesn't have crews trained to anything like the same standard.

One of 3  CAVRA rescue boats – seen here in an offshore exercise on 20/11/2016 . It could be mistaken from a distance for a RNLI lifeboat – even down the flashing blue light – but doesn’t have crews trained to the same standard – and seems not to rescue people stuck on Sully Island.

CAVRA, the self-styled “Civil Aid Volunteer Rescue Association” has issued a press release covering its activities during 2016 in which – not for the first time –  has omitted any details of the ‘rescues’ which it claims to have undertaken during the year.

In a report entitled “Another Busy year for CAVRA” the Sully-based charity – formerly the Cardif and Vale Rescue Association – claims that in 2016 it “attended a total of 12 incidents,  rescuing 7 people”.

No details of these incidents, nor of the people rescued, nor of the locations or of the dates on which the rescues were carried out, are given in the press release.

CAVRA - the "Civil Aid Rescue Association" - has been pressing for greater involvement in rescue work .

CAVRA – at the Taff River Bridge in Cardiff in 2015 . Critics have questioned whether a partly taxpayer-funded  charity should be indulging in fripperies like a personalised licence-plate

The report goes on to claim that CAVRA assisted  at “a further 17 plus 3 other incidents” – but no details are given. It also says “our volunteers performed 11,300 hours of voluntary service estimated to be worth £146,900 to the local community”.

CAVRA had earlier claimed that up until the end of 2015 it had received a total of £282,229.11 in donations and grants (including an £80,000 grant from the “Community Facilities and Activities Programme ” – which funded purchase of one of its rescue boats, a 4×4 Land Rover vehicle and an “amphibious all-terrain vehicle” plus other equipment.

However at the beginning of 2016 the Vale of  Glamorgan Council refused to renew an annual £250 grant to CAVRA (which had asked the council for £500) . In September 2014  CAVRA  had complained to Cardiff Harbour Authority about not being called out to emergencies in Cardiff Bay – but Assistant Harbourmaster Tim Gifford said the Harbour Authority’s emergency procedures did “not include reference to CAVRA” and the Vale of Glamorgan Council told the charity it was not part of council official emergency planning protocol”.

Sully Island - just yards from the CAVRA rescue boat base is the scene of scores of rescues every year

Sully Island – just yards from the CAVRA rescue boat base-  is the scene of scores of rescues every year – but the rescues are always carried out by the RNLI

Even though CAVRA is a Sully-based charity,  and its three boats are based at the “BP” Sports and Social Centre at Sully (within direct sight of Sully Island), CAVRA seems rarely –  if ever –  called upon by the HM Coastguard to rescue any of the dozens of people who every year are trapped on the island by the tide.

It’s not CAVRA, but the RNLI’s Penarth crews who are always trusted to carry out such missions –  even though CAVRA is based in Sully and claims to be “available 24/7” and has received thousands of pounds in funding from the taxpayer – whereas the RNLI receives none .

The UK Department of Transport paid £40,000 for CAVRA's new flood-rescue boat

The UK Department of Transport paid £40,000 for CAVRA’s new flood-rescue boat

In the latest report for 2016 CAVRA confirms having received £41,000  from the UK Government Department of Transport for the purchase of a  “a new flood rescue boat, equipment trailer, as well as other equipment and training”.

In its 2016 report to the Charities Commission, CAVRA’s chairman  says ,” Now that we have received these grants, and completed the training, we WILL have to deliver, when the call comes!”

Although the RNLI,  Penarth Coastguard and South Wales Fire and Rescue all routinely publish details of all their rescues and call-outs on the day they happen,  CAVRA says “we reserve the right to not disclose this information under the Data Protection Act 1998.”




About NewsNet

Penarth Daily News email address . Penarth Daily News is an independent free on-line fair and balanced news service published by NewsNet Ltd covering the town of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, UK. All our news items are based on the information we receive or discover at the time of publication and are published on the basis that they are accurate to the best of our knowledge and belief at that time. Comments posted on the site by commentators reflect their opinions and are not necessarily shared, endorsed or supported by Penarth Daily News.
This entry was posted in Penarth Daily News. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. whatsoccurin says:

    Recently read an article by cricketer, Ian Botham-said that he loves doing his charity walks but he is no fool and asks his “people” to check out charities requesting a donation. He has not been informed of any improper behaviour but some charities seem to be more interested in the charitable status rather than actually DOING things-CAVRA need to evidence this does not apply to them by perhaps, doing the “Sully Island run” thus easing pressure on RNLI.

  2. Clive says:

    However well intentioned the grant aid would be better spent in repairing pavements in terms of civil aid

  3. Chris David says:

    The big charities appear to be interested in how much the directors can cream off, however this org is far to small for big bucks to disappear. Nevertheless if they are receiving money from anyone whether it be grants or donations they should be accountable. I look forward to their response to PDN.

  4. I’m sure that CAVRA would be happy to do the “Sully Island run” if someone asked them. Not all rescue work actually involves saving lives, searching for a missing person for instance, so your statistics are meaningless. They were also involved with the Somerset Levels floods two years ago. I have friends and family there so there efforts were appreciated by myself.

    I hear a lot of catty comments about CAVRA from RNIL and Harbour Authority staff and would like to know the reasons behind this hatred.

  5. Peter Church says:

    mmmm Carva!
    I know how they feel, I’m not sure how many I’ve had over the last year either!

  6. The Tax payer says:

    From what I understand they do a good job with what they have to use. As for the comments about the RNLI and Cardiff harbour authority being catty I have heard this aswell and as far as I know some of the RNLI team work for the harbour authority which is one of the same thing ?
    I for one will still donate to the CAVRA team next time I see them and who knows when local people may be very glad of the help one day and does it really matter who pulls you out of the water when you are in trouble??

  7. James says:

    Aren’t CAVRA an inland flood rescue team, and the RNLI an offshore rescue team, surely thats two different skill sets?

    How come the picture of the grey boats changed?

  8. Mark says:

    CAVRA are no longer a additional facility to HM Coastguard as they ‘CAVRA’ ceased their MOU with HMCG…..I’m led to believe.

    They don’t belong to any national organisation as others do for Maritime and Land SAR activities,

    The funding they receive would in my opinion be better used with other charity’s who respond regularly to SAR activities

    Interesting seeing CAVRA driving around in their Land Rover doing their shopping in ASDA etc, who’s paying for that private fuel… it being used private use?

    is this one of their incidents they refer to?
    This evening one of our rescue personnel attended a 2 vehicle RTC on the M4 Westbound and stopped the motorway traffic to assist the safe recovery of vehicles and occupants to the hard shoulder and out of immediate danger.

  9. Concerned Citizen says:

    They will never be called out by HMCG at Milford Haven unless they have what is known as ‘Declared Facility Status’. This requires a high standard of training. It also requires regular appraisal by HMCG to ensure high standards of skill and professionalism are maintained. As far as I am aware, only RNLI, the voluntary i.e. ‘mobile’ coastguard and NCI ( National Coastwatch) meet these standards in our area. Incidentally, many of the rescues carried out on Sully Island are initially reported by NCI who keep a constant watch on it in daylight hours 365 days a year

    • James says:

      I might be mistaken, but since CAVRA advertises themselves as a DEFRA B team for floods, and has recieved funding from DEFRA and the DoT (both of which are government agencies.

      They must meet a level of training, which I’m guessing is set out by DEFRA/DoT and keep upto date with the training.

      • Jason says:

        Yes they are a DEFRA approved team as far as I am aware so all their personel would meet the requirements laid out by the organisation.

        Currently I believe a B team is powered boats and swiftwater rescue technicians.

Comments are closed.