Lifeguard Lauren Gibbs often returns to the beach after helping in a dramatic rescue and wonders how she did it.
Once the adrenaline wears off it's the love of helping others that keeps her going. It's that drive that was celebrated at the Surf Life Saving New Zealand Northern Region annual Awards of Excellence last month.
The Sunnyvale resident was made Lifeguard of the Year and is only the fifth woman to win since 1980.
The awards celebrate the end of the surf life saving season for the 17 clubs from Auckland to Raglan.
Miss Gibbs is a member of Bethells Beach Surf Life Saving Patrol and has been since she was 14, doing both paid and unpaid life saving.
The 24-year-old is proud to receive the award but credits her success to being surrounded by like-minded, similarly hard-working people at the club.
She's been involved in countless dramatic situations including the case of Henderson resident Zebedee Pua.
He drowned at O'Neills Bay, north of Bethells, while trying to save a swimmer in January.
"It is hard but you accept it as part of the job.
"Afterwards we come together as a team and have good debriefing systems in place."
Miss Gibbs is also a community education instructor, surfcom operator and beach auditor.
She does all this while also raising her six-year-old son and studying at Unitec.
Other West Aucklanders honoured in the awards: Logan Adams, of Piha Surf Life Saving – Regional Lifeguard of the Year Monica Nevill-Jackson, Bethells Beach – Rookie Lifeguard of the Year Mark Bourneville, Piha – Surf Coach of the Year United North Piha – Masters Competition Club of the Year Steven Ferguson, Piha – Open Sportsman of the Year Life Service awards went to: Brent Lane, Kubi Witten-Hannah, Andrew Shaw, John McLarin, Matt Wade and Fraser Harvey, all of Karekare. Johanna Piggins-Verheijen of United North Piha. Jonathon Webber of Piha – Distinguished Service Award Stephen Pye of Kakekare – Life Membership.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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