For the past three years, Land Rover has held the Defender Service Awards, an initiative that recognizes charitable organizations for their contributions to their community. In 2023, there were six award categories, with the winner of each category earning a customized Land Rover Defender 130 vehicle and a $25,000 USD cash prize. The six awards included:
Animal, Wildlife & Marine Welfare Award
Community Services Award
Search, Rescue & Emergency Support Services Award
Veteran & Civil Servant Outreach Award
Outdoor Accessibility & Education Award
Defender Service Honourees Award
Squamish Search and Rescue Society made the short-list of nominees for the Search, Rescue & Emergency Support Services Award alongside Allegheny Mountain Rescue Group (Pittsburgh, PA), Resources in Search and Rescue, Inc. (Monroe, CT), Taos Search and Rescue (Taos, NM), and Texas Search and Rescue (Wimberley, TX).
As explained by the Defender Service Awards, Squamish Search and Rescue is a “100% volunteer-run organization that provides ground and inland water search and rescue services, wilderness public safety and emergency services on the unceded traditional territory of the Squamish Nation in British Columbia. With over 6,400 task hours per year, their 80-member team is one of the busiest in Canada, with a response area that covers a vast and diverse terrain — swift white water rivers, high alpine peaks and glaciers, massive rock faces, extensive mountain bike and hiking trails — necessitating a wide array of rescue response types. They incorporate a combination of equipment, training and expertise in high alpine, avalanche, rope, helicopter long-line and swift water rescue discipline to save lives.”
From September 15 to October 4, the public could vote online for their organization-of-choice from the the group of short-listed nominees. With their huge voting support, Squamish SAR and Texas SAR made it to the top-2 and were invited to attend the 2023 Defender Service Awards ceremony held on November 12 in Somerville, Texas.
With the highest number of votes across all five nominees, Squamish SAR were awarded the Search, Rescue & Emergency Support Services Award, winning a customized Defender 130, a $25,000 USD cash prize, and many in-kind Pelican products valued at over $8,000 USD.
“To everyone who voted for us from Squamish, Sea to Sky, and beyond along with the Search and Rescue communities across the country, we are overwhelmed with gratitude,” said Squamish SAR on Instagram. “It was truly a team effort. Winning the Defender 130 is a game-changer, enhancing our response capabilities to reach even further and more remote places.”