Encouraging students to be active participants in their wider community is a key part of a Burgess Hill Girls education. So we are always impressed when we hear of Bold Girls who continue to do this, often to a much greater extent, when they leave us. In this news we catch-up with Bold Girl Zoe Webber who volunteers for Sussex Search and Rescue amongst other roles. You might also remember her lockdown trumpet video – more on that below too!
Hi Zoe, what are you doing now?
At the moment I’m doing a degree apprenticeship in Electronics and Electrical Engineering. I work full time at a company that makes high voltage power supplies, and I’m working towards being a development engineer there.
Did anything you learnt at Burgess Hill Girls Help You Get There?
My choice of A levels really were key to my current position, and the opportunities I’ve been able to take up. Physics and Maths play heavily into my degree course, and Psychology has allowed me to empathise with those that I encounter through my Search and Rescue work. It gives me a deeper understanding of mental conditions like depression and dementia.
What’s next for you?
For now I’m working through my degree, I have just over a year left until I’m finished and I’m on track for a first class degree. Beyond that, I hope to progress further through the company I work at, and develop my skills for the future.
What do you like doing outside of work?
Outside of work I spend a lot of time doing voluntary work. Primarily I am a Search Technician with Sussex Search and Rescue (SusSAR) , a charity that works in partnership with Sussex Police in the searching for missing people (‘Mispers’) across Sussex. I am on call 24/7, which means I can (and do) get called out at all times of day and night. I’ve completed over 100 hours training and attended 17 live callouts in the 12 months since I’ve been operational.
On a call out, we carry out an initial local search while the search planners split the surrounding area into sectors for teams to go and search. Each team consists of 4 team members, each with their own assigned role, team leader, first aid, communications and navigation. Sometimes we have police come out with our teams, and the Police Search Advisors often visit us at training.
We train every other Thursday, whether it be a simulated search, a talk from teams we may work with (dog team, Sussex police, drone capabilities), condition specific talks (dementia behaviours, suicidal cases). We also service and maintain equipment on every 3rd Thursday per month. We all complete a fitness test and competency day annually, and regularly practise with stretchers, navigation, scenes of crime, among many other things, all as part of our ongoing training. I’m also qualified to drive the two Landrovers we currently use for callouts.
I chose to join SusSAR after a personal experience, which made me want to do anything I could to bring families closure. We may not always find our mispers alive, but even when that’s the case, the closure we bring to the family is invaluable. Volunteering with SusSAR enables me to keep working my day job but also help the community, and families that need it most. We’re all volunteers, we don’t get paid for our time or petrol expenses, we buy our own equipment and many of us, like myself, still work full time. It is hard work doing both but I do it because I love it.
Aside from SusSAR and work, I’m still playing music, I was a music scholar at Burgess Hill Girls. I’m endorsed by Tanglewood Guitars under my alias of Zoe Zori and I’ve played over 400 gigs in the last 5 years. I’m hoping this year more festivals are able to go ahead!
When we were in the first lockdown and clapping for the NHS my mum suggested I played my trumpet to show our gratitude. It was talked about on our local village chat with people wondering where the music was coming from, so I took a little tour each week, playing in different parts of the village, mainly in different bits of woodland, always unannounced.
Also during lockdown I was invited to play at a hundred year old’s birthday party at a Brighton nursing home. But it was tricky to make it work because of all the restrictions. So we decided to record a video that could be shared across different nursing homes in Sussex. The video (which can be viewed below) became popular and the story made the front page of The Argus!
Finally, what message would you give to current pupils at Burgess Hill Girls?
If you have an interest in something that doesn’t explicitly line up with your A levels (or GCSEs), explore it! I knew I didn’t want to go to university full time, and I knew I didn’t ‘just’ want to work in Engineering, but I didn’t know how to go about it until I spoke to people about the different options out there.
As this is the 20th Anniversary year of Sussex Search and Rescue, the charity is attempting to fundraise £20,000. If you would like to support them please do so here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/susSARgive20for20
The Sussex Search and Rescue team is entirely made up of volunteers who have been professionally trained, are called on by Sussex Police and search teams in neighbouring counties to search for vulnerable missing people. The team is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. To keep the team operational Sussex Search and Rescue is dependent on donations from the general public and by applying for granted funds.