Burnham-On-Sea’s BARB Search & Rescue has this week been awarded a £16,000 grant towards the cost of new flood rescue equipment and training.

The long-running Burnham charity has been successful in its bid for funding from the Department of Transport’s ‘Inshore and Inland Rescue Boat Grant Scheme’.

Almost £1million has been awarded to 51 rescue charities across the UK to support water rescue services at a local level, it was announced on Thursday.

The funding will be used by BARB to buy a new multi-terrain vehicle to make it easier for its crews to launch rescue boats and access areas of limited access, such as narrow country lanes and flooded fields, plus access rocky terrain.

BARB will also get new inflatable rescue paths to safely move people and equipment over flood water, plus new high-power water-proof GPS radio sets to improve communications at incidents, plus enhanced water rescue training courses for its crewmembers. The new equipment will be used at a wide range of incidents.

BARB’s volunteer crews spent hundeds of hours helping cut-off communities during 2013 and 2014 when flooding hit the Somerset Levels, and the charity had its busiest year on record last year attending almost 40 coast and inland incidents.

BARB Chairman Mark Newman said: “We’re delighted to be receiving this grant, which will allow us to buy new rescue equipment and training, bolstering our overall capabilities.”

“BARB’s crews are always on-call 24 hours a day to respond to incidents and the new equipment will help us save lives and keep our crews safe. BARB relies on generous donations and the support of the local community to meet our operating costs and that fundraising continues.”

Maritime Minister Robert Goodwill said in a statement this week: “This funding recognises the enormous efforts of voluntary rescue boat teams and their tireless work in providing 24/7 services during emergencies and extreme weather.”

“These groups often rely on charitable donations to sustain their operations. This additional funding will make a real difference to them and the communities they serve, enabling them to buy the essential equipment and training.”

An expert panel — including representatives from the devolved administrations, Defra, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, RNLI, and the Royal Yachting Association — assessed applications submitted to the Department for Transport under the 2015 to 2016 round of the scheme.

Burnham’s former MP Tessa Munt, who supported BARB with its application, said: “I’m a huge fan of BARB and am absolutely delighted that this brilliant local organisation with its amazing team of volunteers has received much-deserved funding for its essential work in Somerset. I congratulate all those who give their time to help BARB – whether in the water, on the beach, or in the office, including fundraising which allows BARB’s important rescue work to continue.”