YOU ARE HERE NOW / What Christmas means to me

This Christmas Day, hundreds of people in and around Worthing will spend their time volunteering or working to protect, help or deliver to our community.

As many as 3.4 per cent of employees work on Christmas Day, according to the Office of National Statistics – that’s around 1.04m punching in on the national holiday. From firefighters to police officers, midwives to carers, lifeboat volunteers to clergy, spare
a thought for the people putting their festivities on pause to help others.

Here & Now spoke to Darren Yeates, a lowland rescue search dog handler and team leader from Search Dogs Sussex. The entire team are volunteers, who do the job alongside their day job and receive no extra funding. We are lucky to have five of the 42 nationally qualified search dog teams here in Sussex, two of which are part of only 13 teams qualified to the highest level. They train for at least a day every week and it takes over two years to train to be an operational dog search team.


Does your job usually require you to work over Christmas?

Absolutely! We are on call 365 days of the year, 24 hours a day to support the police in looking for vulnerable missing people. In 2016, I was called out on Christmas Eve to a nursery near Heathrow – the nursery turned out to be a Christmas tree plantation!


Does it feel different working at Christmas?

A little. It’s always tough walking away from the family for a callout at anytime, but especially so at Christmas and the New Year as this is

Lowland Search and Rescue Dogs Picture by Jim Holden Here & Now

Daren & Millie Picture by Jim Holden

traditionally a time for families. However, I’m lucky in that my family understand that I’m going to potentially save a life… so, well, priorities.


How will you spend Christmas Day?

The same as everyone else! Opening presents, visiting the grandparents. The only difference is that I will be refraining from the drink and will be prepared to drop everything and be out the door in 10 minutes flat if my mobile phone chirps with that callout tone.


Find out more about Search Dogs Sussex here.

Follow them:

FB: @searchdogsussex

Twitter: @SDSussex

Millie the dog: @SearchDogMillie


Find out how you can make a difference in the community, just like Darren does, by going along to one of the events listed in the make a difference section of the magazine.