MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN 2017 CAMPAIGN: Teenager playing crucial role in pioneering Norfolk and Suffolk 4X4 Response team
PUBLISHED: 07:57 19 June 2017 | UPDATED: 08:11 19 June 2017
As part of our support of the Voluntary Norfolk Make a Difference in 2017 campaign, the EDP is shining a light on voluntary groups and individuals. Reporter SOPHIE WYLLIE spoke to a teenager who publicises a rescue support service across Norfolk and Suffolk.
Like many 18-years-old around the country right now, Amy Berwick is busy revising for her final set of A-level exams and preparing for university.
But for the past two years, as well as attending Wymondham High School sixth form lessons, Miss Berwick, from Wacton, has been supporting the Norfolk and Suffolk 4X4 Response team.
Formed in 1999 by two people, volunteers from across the counties who have 4x4 vehicles are deployed to help other emergency service workers including firefighters, Coastguard, the lowland search and rescue teams, police and paramedics at any time.
They help keep the public safe at major public events and are used in situations including missing people searches and adverse weather conditions by transporting emergency workers and supplies to hard to reach places.
The group was the first of its kind in the country and has expanded to 80 volunteers - including 65 drivers.
Miss Berwick set up a junior member section which promotes the group when she joined aged 16; became a support member for the drivers aged 17; and now sits on the six-strong committee as well as promoting the group on social media.
The 18-year-old, from Hall Lane, who was inspired by her parents to join, said: “I have always been interested in Land Rover vehicles and 4x4s and the fact I could link that with volunteering and helping people was inspiring.
“I’m playing a big part in the group and I want to help it flourish.
“I feel valued and my small impact can have a monumental benefit for some people, which makes it worthwhile.
“The group was the first of its kind in the country and now the model has spread across Britain.”
She added: “I would say to anyone who is thinking about volunteering, ‘Just do it.’ It makes you feel like you are much better person.
“My communication and confidence has improved so much since joining the group. I used to be so shy but now I can talk to anybody.
“It is also an escape when you are helping others.”
Her mother, Sarah Berwick, 45, a customer service worker for Mattressman in Norwich, has been a committee member for seven years and her self-employed father, Roger Berwick, 50, used to be a volunteer.
She added there is a mix of people in the group, in terms of backgrounds and ages, and it was good older children and teenagers could get involved with the Norfolk and Suffolk 4X4 Response team.
There are now 15 junior members and their main role includes publicising the work of the group at major events including the Royal Norfolk Show, the Suffolk Show and East Anglian Game and Country Fair.
Volunteers also act as marshals at community races and events to provide medical support.
Miss Berwick’s 15-year-old brother James, from Long Stratton High School, has become a new recruit to the junior section.
As well as promoting the main group, the junior section encourages youngsters to become support members and drivers from 17-years-old.
Drivers have to own their own 4x4 and own a full driving licence.
The 18-year-old hopes to own a 4x4 after university and has been driving them since she was 13 after joining the Suffolk Land Rover Owners Club.
“I have always had an interest in Land Rovers and 4x4s,” she said.
As well as boosting her confidence and communication skills, the teenager said being part of the group has boosted her CV and university application forms.
“I feel young people have to put themselves out there in terms of volunteering. Once you do that, it is easy.
“I think young people should be interested in volunteering,” Miss Berwick added.
She is in the final month of her A-level exams and has studied psychology, geography and English,
She has a conditional offer to study an education degree at University of East Anglia and wants to become a primary school teacher.
To get involved in the Norfolk and Suffolk 4X4 Response team visit www.norfolk4x4response.org.uk or follow NS 4x4 Response on Twitter and Facebook.
To find out more about opportunities available through Voluntary Norfolk visit www.voluntarynorfolk.org.uk
Are you a involved in a voluntary group? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Response team helped with Corrie McKeague search and tidal surge
Volunteers from the Norfolk and Suffolk 4X4 Response team can be called upon by other emergency services at any time of day or night.
One of the biggest incidents the team has dealt with so far was the ongoing search for missing servicemen Corrie McKeague.
The 23-year-old from Dunfermline, in Fife, Scotland, was posted at RAF Honington when he went missing in the early hours of Saturday, September 24, 2016, after a night out with friends in Bury St Edmunds.
The last time he was spotted was at 3.24am when he walked into a loading/refuse collection area.
A major search is being held at the Milton landfill site in Cambridgeshire for the serviceman.
Norfolk and Suffolk 4X4 Response team volunteers have been involved with seven searches since September 24.
The team supported other emergency workers during the 2013 tidal surge in Walcott, on the Norfolk coast.