Seven Taranaki residents were recognised for their hard work and dedication to surf lifesaving at the 2012 In it for Life Awards in Wellington last weekend.
Five individuals from around the nation were given life membership awards, four of which came back to Taranaki with recipients Neville Nodder, Grant Crossan and Valda Walsh of East End Surf Lifesaving Club, and Vaughan Garrett of New Plymouth Old Boys' Surf Lifesaving Club.
Ms Walsh was also the first Taranaki woman to receive the lifetime award.
All four volunteers were thrilled with their recognition and said giving up their time to help surf lifesaving had just become part of their lives.
"We started as kids, we grew up and became senior lifeguards, and now we're senior senior," said Mr Nodder. "It's good fun. We're out on the beach, in the surf; you meet a lot of good people and make lifetime friends."
As a member of the NPOB club from 1968-1973 and East End from 1973, Mr Nodder has received both New Zealand Service and Distinguished Service Awards and was Lifeguard of the Year in 2001.
Mr Crossan, who has been with East End since 1968, has also received those awards and holds several titles including club captain, committee member, patrol officer and team manager.
Mr Garrett joined NPOB in 1973 and became a lifeguard in 1983.
He has been involved in officiating national surf sport events and was Lifeguard of the Year in 1999.
Only the fifth woman to receive the award in New Zealand, Ms Walsh joined East End in 1962 and worked as a lifeguard between 1963 and 2000.
She was part of the masters' team in 1992 and has been president and acted as an examiner within the club.
But Ms Walsh said they were not in surf lifesaving to get awards, and just enjoyed being part of what was not only a sport, but a community service.
Fitzroy club members Todd Velvin and Emma Crofsky also received service awards for their contributions to surf lifesaving, while Brian Velvin received his 50-year badge.
Mr Velvin also gained special recognition for being made a Grand Knight by the International Life Saving Federation and is now one of only 43 Grand Knights in the world.
Mr Crossan said getting the awards by no means meant their involvement in the sport would come to an end.
"We still get out there and do some patrolling - when we have to. When there's an emergency," he laughed.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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