The last of our volunteers has returned safely from the British Virgin Islands after a ground-breaking, three-week mission to help the communities devastated by Hurricane Irma.
Dan, Craig and Simon flew home on Sunday to complete a mammoth effort by our teams, and to adhere to the Serve On creed of not impeding the local recovery efforts, once our work is done, nor becoming a burden on disaster-hit communities.
We were proud to have been asked to help after such a disaster and to work with the amazingly resilient people of the BVI and it will not be an end to our involvement with the wonderful communities there.
The difference we have made to the islanders has been tremendous and much-appreciated, and will be fully detailed once Operations Director Dan has had a chance for a debrief.
Pete Old, a stalwart behind the scenes back in the UK throughout the operation, explained: "This type of deployment was new to us in many ways. We have never deployed our teams to a hurricane; never stayed deployed for this length of time; and never worked so closely with another team."
In a collaborative effort with Team Rubicon UK, and after being personally invited to the BVI by the Governor's Permanent Secretary, David Archer, our volunteers carried out important assessment and clear-up work on Beef Island, on Tortola and on Virgin Gorda where our communications, water filtration, assessment and organisational capabilities were a huge boost to the local recovery team.
We cleared medical centres to enable vital treatments of the local population, and cleared the airport at Beef Island to help speed the arrival of urgently-needed aid.
Our many years of disaster response experience allowed Serve On to work with Local government and international response structures to understand the needs of a population affected by Hurricane Irma.
It enabled us to provide practical on-the-ground support whilst providing information upward to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency and, at the same time, to liaise with the Department of International Development and Foreign and Commonwealth Office
No fewer than ten of our expert volunteers flew out to the Caribbean at different times to offer their considerable skills, but none of that would have been possible without the help of those back in the UK.
Pete said: "Thank you to the teams that deployed and thank-you especially to Clare who led the UK side of the operation from a strategic/Gold perspective.
"Too many were involved in this deployment to name check everyone but to those who dropped everything to go to the Hurricane-zone without knowing exactly what they would be able to offer; those who drove to deliver and pick up teams at stupid o'clock; those who spent long hours in the operations room in Chilmark; and those who worked their magic with the web site and media outputs - THANK YOU."
He said: "I would like to remember also those who allowed us to do this: Our wives, partners, and families who allow us to pursue our aim whilst staying at home doing the family stuff and worrying about us. Please let them know we appreciate their support."
Special thanks should therefore go to Emily, Becky, Dawn, Lisa, Yvonne, Cathy, Rahima, Anna and Shirley.
In order to support this deployment and the day-to-day work of Serve On, helping disaster-hit communities around the world and at home, we need the public's help.
Please give what help you can. Any donations would be greatly appreciated.