OPINION: It seems inappropriately flash to use a word like magnificent. So let's just say that the Bluff Coastguard and the wider community did a pretty good job fundraising for a new rescue vessel.
The $1.2 million target was nothing if not ambitious. Mind you, there's nothing like an aching need to motivate a practical outfit.
The existing boat was inadequate for those dangerous seas: it could safely be used only in moderate conditions. That, in turn, had wretched potential consequences for the safety of those in dire straits, if rescues were delayed, or for the imperilled volunteers themselves.
Now expert builders can start working on a replacement that will be larger and quicker to the rescue, particularly in worse conditions. It will be able to stay on the water longer and to reach more far-flung areas. That's serious, lifesaving capacity.
There's nothing indulgent about any of that, nor anything fanciful about the way the need was presented to the public. After a series of desperately sad sinkings, people scarcely needed persuading of the need for a fit-for-purpose vessel.
Among the most telling voices raised on the campaign's behalf was that of Dallas Reedy of the Easy Rider, rescued in 2012 at just about the limit of his endurance after 18 hours in Foveaux Strait.
The regular reporting of the donations stream has made for some heartening reading. From the largest contributing organisations, charitable trusts, companies councils and clubs to individuals, the support was not only impressive in its own terms, but indicative of a community that is still motivated to look after itself, when it sees clearly how it can do so.
This campaign never monopolised the good-cause market. Fundraising continues for the Poppycock Trust's Southland-wide cyber-safety campaign to educate children, teens, adults and companies in some of the most important survival skills of the modern era. The tin is still being rattled for Stadium Southland. Scratchy boards and raffles and cheese rolls are still being proffered on behalf of a host of causes. Still, it's good to see one of the most important ones over the line.
- The Southland Times
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