Woodbridge Rugby Club Helps Suffolk Fire Rescue Service Fly

Woodbridge Rugby Club was glad to accommodate a different type of practice on Saturday 20 February when ex-player and Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service Chief Pilot Adrian Mason asked for help.

Adrian and Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service drone pilots Laurence Dalziel, Mark Daly and Peter Watson-Brown needed to practice with one of the service’s hi-tech drones. Woodbridge Rugby Club’s quiet, Covid-hit pitches, usually bustling with local rugby, provided just the spot.

Adrian was the first member of the drone unit and, from its beginnings just over two years ago, the team, based at Woodbridge Fire Station, is now used extensively by the fire service and the police.

As Adrian says: “Most of our work is helping the police to find missing
persons. The drones have thermal imaging cameras which makes them
particularly effective. The latest drone is the fourth update of its kind and live feed capability is planned shortly.

“This training is vital in our role of finding missing persons where, during a normal week we can expect to be called upon two or three times, day or night. The only limiting factor is the wind but we can handle winds up to 33mph.”

Adrian, who attended Woodbridge School and played for the Woodbridge Warriors senior men’s team between 1987-90, recalled tracking down one escaped felon in the reed beds of the River Orwell at night using thermal imaging as well as finding people that wander, confused, from traffic accidents.

Club vice-chairman Simon Bennett commented: “Like all sports clubs we are struggling through lockdown, but the club supports the community and, when a local key worker and ex-player needs a favour, we are delighted to play our part.”

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