Over 30 years of search and rescue flights from Stornoway were celebrated today (Wednesday June 12th) at Bristows’ newly-renovated SAR base at Stornoway airport.

An assembled crowd of press, civic representatives and serving Coastguard officers and volunteers gathered to recognise the work carried out from the base, and the teamwork which links helicopter SAR with land and sea-based services.

The helicopter service, operated by Bristow Helicopters Ltd on behalf of HM Coastguard, has a long and proud history of saving the lives of those in need on land and at sea.

Richard Parkes, director of HM Coastguard (chief coastguard) told welovestornoway.com: “Stornoway Coastguard SAR base was established in 1987 and has saved over 4,000 lives in northern Scotland. 50% of the work we do is inland, with search and rescue operations over mountain and moorland.

"I am immensely proud of the teams, because up here they are working in the most challenging environments and do an amazing job. My thanks go to all of them for their selfless commitment to the saving of lives.”

Russ Torbet, director of UK SAR for Bristow Helicopters said: "The combined efforts of the air, land and sea rescuers continue to be vital to communities around the UK, and today's event was superb recognition for the dedication shown by our team in the Western Isles.

"We were also able to give guests from around the Highlands and Islands an insight into the workings of the base following completion of a major renovation programme, designed to bring our Stornoway site up to the same standard as the new-build bases we've opened across the UK over the past five years."

The Coastguard SAR base at Stornoway is operated by a team of 32. Bristow began operating the UK's SAR helicopter service on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) in 2015, after winning the tender in 2013.

Pictures show chief coastguard Richard Parkes unveiling a commemorative plaque to mark the occasion, with Russ Torbet (left) and with one of the two Sikorsky 92a helicopters which serve from the Stornoway base.