On 16 June 2020 during the Covid Pandemic, Sussex Search & Rescue and Search Dogs Sussex were deployed in the beautiful Ashdown Forest to search for a missing person (missing since 14 June).
That person was my brother.
A day later, on Wednesday 17 June 2020 at around 4.30pm, Search Dog Millie notified her handler, Darren, of a discovery.It was the discovery that no-one ever wants to hear.My brother, my only sibling, had ended his own life.Our lives have never been the same since…..
I didn't know about the specifics of this until the first anniversary of Stu's passing when Darren saw one of my posts online and messaged me to say he was raising a glass to Stu. He then shared that it was him and his team mate who had found him thanks to his search dog Millie.
I finally got to meet Millie, Darren, Liam and the team recently, and what an emotional meeting this was.
Some may not understand this, especially if not lost a loved one to suicide, but just being in their presence brought so much comfort because they found my brother and they looked after him until the police took over.
I needed to know how my brother looked. I needed to know what his last vision on this earth was…..and I have to say, it was beautiful. He found the most beautiful location to transition to the other side:
- Pines trees (his favourite)
- A winding stream that would have reminded him of our beautiful childhood home
- A quiet little oasis in the middle of the forest, away from the world
- And a warm summer’s evening (we have to assume he transitioned on Sunday 14th)
I was in tears as soon as I saw Millie - she’s such a clever dog. And talking to such kind & courageous handlers Darren & Liam was super emotional but also super special. I am forever grateful to this wonderful wonderful team.
They are ALL volunteers and if I remember correctly, 2020 was a record high for the search and rescue teams on call outs.
If anyone is understanding of the importance of these incredible teams who are part of Lowland Rescue, they would truly appreciate any donations to help them keep going. If they didn't do what they do, my brother may never have been found and he could still be a missing persons.
Here's the link if you'd like to add a donation: DONATE HERE