BANGOR’S K9 Search and Rescue team have been given the royal seal of approval in recognition of their brave humanitarian efforts.

Ryan Gray, K9 group founder and his rescue dog Max, were thrilled to receive the regal invite from King Charles and Queen Camilla to attend a humanitarian reception at Buckingham Palace last week.

The K9 team provides specialised search and rescue dogs for urban, rural, coastal and disaster situations to search for missing people and travelled to Turkey in the wake of February’s earthquake disaster.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake near the Turkey-Syria border saw tens of thousands of people killed and thousands of buildings reduced to rubble, before a second quake struck just nine hours later.

Ryan and Max along with colleagues Kyle Murray, Tom McMaster and rescue dog Delta, travelled to Turkey to support the rescue efforts in the challenging conditions made much more difficult by the heavy rain and snow. 

The local team worked alongside the European Association of Civil Protection Volunteer Teams, and played an important role in helping to bring people to safety.

The Coastguard’s senior coastal operations officer spoke of his surprise when he received the invitation to this ‘once in a lifetime’ royal event.

“I received a phone call from the Northern Ireland Office saying their Majesties were having a reception at Buckingham Palace for those who have worked towards the United Kingdom’s exceptional contribution to humanitarianism,” said Ryan.

“To be invited to Buckingham Palace to meet the King and Queen is a once in a lifetime experience and we were delighted to attend. It was a lovely evening and there were people from all across the United Kingdom.

“Max enjoyed his time at the Palace and he was very well behaved.”

The dedicated duo never miss an opportunity to improve their skills. “While we were here we also did some training with some of the guys we met in Turkey from Serve On’s international response team.

“We also did some training with the Fire Service and search dogs from Avon. The training is constant, it never stops. So we have maximised our time when we have been over.”