Darth Vader commandeers SARA for Forest visit
Darth Vader and an escort of Stormtroopers paid a flying visit to the Forest this week and were pictured sailing at high speed up the River Severn in a SARA rescue boat.
Scenes from Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens were filmed at Puzzlewood and it is understood that the delegation from the Galactic Empire arrived for secret talks about a new TV and Movie Trail, which celebrates small and big screen productions filmed in the region.
The arrival was witnessed by Mark Terry-Lush, director of Wye Valley & Forest of Dean Tourism. He said: “From Timelords to Sith Lords, comic book heroes to dragon slayers and wizards, the Forest of Dean has provided a natural stage for small and big screen productions. The region’s reputation for hospitality has clearly travelled throughout the galaxy and we are delighted to welcome all visitors from the Galactic Empire. He may be portrayed as a ruthless villain, but I think Darth Vader’s dark side has been softened by the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley’s natural beauty. To celebrate all the productions filmed here, we will launch a Film and TV Trail later this month so that fans can follow in the footsteps of their on-screen heroes.”
Darth Vader, recognised by the American Film Institute as the third greatest movie villain in history, travelled up the Severn Estuary and under the Severn Bridge before setting a jack-boot ashore at the SARA Lifeboat Station in Beachley, before heading off into the Forest, undetected by Jedi fighters.
J J Abrams, director of Star Wars Episode VII, paid testament to the Forest of Dean in his personal letter to the cast and crew at the end of the mammoth production. In it he said: “From the deserts of Abu Dhabi, to the Forest of Dean, to the stages of Pinewood, you have risen to every challenge.”
SARA Coxswain – Kevin Caster said “SARA have taken many VIP’s to sea but a near-seven-foot-tall Darth Vader commandeering our latest lifeboat, SARA-1 shows there is little we will not undertake on the Severn Estuary: even with a healthy Force-5 and a heavy sea pending. We train for every eventuality, even getting the “Dark Side” to safe shores. I am sure Darth has taken a shine to our two rivers and will be holding-up in the Wyedean area. Perhaps SARA’s mountain rescue search team will find him next?…”
Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers’ arrival was captured on video and can be viewed on the Dean Forest Wye Valley Facebook page.
The Film and TV Trail launches on 16th December. For more information visit www.wyedeantourism.co.uk.
On Sunday 29th November Sara Beachley had some special Visitors.
More details will be released during the week starting 7th December.
In the mean time to see a taste of what is to come please visit our Facebook page.
We have recently taken delivery of a new inshore lifeboat for duties on the Severn Estuary from Cardiff to Gloucester and the rivers Wye, Avon and Usk.
Now the largest of SARA’s twenty rescue boats the “Jim Hewitt” (call-sign “SARA-1”) cost over £200,000 was brought into service on 17th October at a ceremony attended by sponsors and dignitaries representing the towns & counties bordering the Severn Estuary.
SARA’s Area Commander, Mervyn Fleming from Newport said, “This is a long awaited event, our old inshore lifeboat has served this coast for seventeen years and has now been retired to the status of “Training Vessel”. Why the “Jim Hewitt”? … It is the name of the primary founder of The Severn Area Rescue Association over forty years ago. The lifeboat has been largely funded through a £220,000 grant through the UK Government’s Department of Transport, provided through an ongoing scheme to use the millions of pounds in fines levied as a result of the Libor inter-bank interest rate scandal to support a range of good causes.
The new lifeboat, built to SARA’s own design incorporates the new International Lifeboat specifications, has a central communications console and simply bristles with rescue and safety features: all protected by a Kevlar™ reinforced glass-fibre hull.
“SARA Lifeboats are tasked to some of the most dangerous waters imaginable with one of the highest tidal ranges in the World.” Mr Fleming said, “This new vessel is equipped with the latest navigation and direction finding equipment to enable her to safely function in the foggy conditions which frequently occur on the estuary.”
The boat’s Manufacturer “Delta Power Group” of Cheshire report that this is the most technically compact and highly specified design they have been tasked to construct and are very pleased with the result.
The Crew at the Chepstow Lifeboat station are also very pleased with the result… powered by twin 150 HP Mariner outboards the “Jim Hewitt” is capable of speeds up to 45 Knots and is very responsive. With a crew of four and able to carry an additional four passengers or two stretcher casualties, she will give excellent service to the dangerous waters of the region into the foreseeable future.