Southern coastguard volunteer wins award

JOB WELL DONE: Coastguard Southland Air Patrol volunteer Laurie Officer has been presented the Air Patrol Volunteer of the Year Award.
JOB WELL DONE: Coastguard Southland Air Patrol volunteer Laurie Officer has been presented the Air Patrol Volunteer of the Year Award.

A long-serving Southland air patrol volunteer has been recognised for his support and passion for the coastguard.

Coastguard Southland air patrol volunteer Laurie Officer received the Air Patrol Volunteer of the Year Award at the National Coastguard Gala Awards in Taupo at the weekend.

Mr Officer was a founding member of the Coastguard Southland air patrol unit in 1998 and has served as president on the regional board. He is a member of the national board.

Mr Officer said he was grateful for the award but recognition also needed to go to the rest of the coastguard team.

The award recognised his long-term project to get support for the coastguard, he said.

While the Coastguard Southland air patrol unit was mainly "low-key", every five to six years there seemed to be a "horrendous" boating accident on Foveaux Strait that required big searches, Mr Officer said.

The coastguard can search for people during the first 30 to 40 minutes of rescue operations, while waiting for helicopters with winches arrive from Te Anau or Dunedin. Mr Officer said he had met some fantastic people through the coastguard.

Coastguard chief executive Patrick Holmes said Mr Officer was an "encourager".

"One of his core strengths is how he facilitates close relationships between local marine units in Southland and liaises with the New Zealand Police and New Zealand Search and Rescue," he said.

Coastguard New Zealand president Dean Lawrence said Mr Officer was loyal and committed.

The Southland Times