Suffolk

Corrie Mckeague search boosts Suffolk charity numbers

Corrie Mckeague with his mother Nicola Urquhart Image copyright Nicola Urquhart
Image caption Corrie Mckeague was last seen in Bury St Edmunds on 24 September 2016

A volunteer rescue group which has been involved in the search for missing airman Corrie Mckeague has seen its membership triple.

Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue (SULSAR) had 25 active team members 18 months ago before the RAF gunner vanished on 24 September 2016.

The charity said it now has 75 active members and has had to cap its membership at 100.

Chairman Andy King said the charity has "changed dramatically".

The mystery of the airman who disappeared

"For a charity which will be 20 this coming year, we were relatively unknown until before Corrie," he added.

"It's been quite a journey."

Image caption Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue chairman Andy King said the charity has changed "dramatically"
Image caption Volunteers have spent 6,000 hours searching for Corrie Mckeague

SULSAR has spent more than 6,000 hours searching for Mr Mckeague, who was last seen on CCTV in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, at 03:25 BST.

The charity said its raised profile has also seen an increase in donations.

It received £10,000 from Suffolk Land Rover Owners Club, a £18,000 grant for thermal imaging cameras from the Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, as well as donations from members of the public.

Funds were also raised at a charity ball organised by the Bull Inn in Barton Mills, where Mr Mckeague's family would stay when in Suffolk.

Image caption SULSAR has applied for planning permission for a new headquarters

SULSAR said it has lodged planning permission for a new headquarters in Woolpit due to its increased size.

Mr King said: "We used to really struggle to put a team out, and I'm talking about as few as six people.

"Now we can put a team of 30 people out any time of day or night within an hour."

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