Lifeguard patrols extended

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 04/02/2013

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Witnessing a drowning at Fitzroy Beach has spurred a Taranaki real estate manager to pay for lifeguards to remain on duty after school next week.

The lifeguards were to have finished their patrols last Friday.

Greg Hull, of TSB Realty, described yesterday how he was at Fitzroy Beach last year taking his dogs for a swim when a man drowned nearby.

Lionel Edward Ogilvy, 45, of Waitara, died on January 11, 2012 trying to save his 10-year-old son from a rip. There were no lifeguards on duty at the time.

"I've seen the consequences and the grief that came from that. I wouldn't like it to happen to anyone else," Mr Hull said.

"We just felt that it was a pity nobody was down there in the afternoon, particularly when there are lots of kids down there after school and nobody is there.

"It was something we could do for a week to make sure they are safe."

Other spurs for the firm include the fact Peter Cronin - Taranaki surf club development officer Andy Cronin's father - was a TSB Realty staff member, and the knowledge there had been a large number of surf rescues by lifeguards last week, he said.

Mr Hull is now challenging other businesses to step up to keep lifeguards on duty for the remainder of the month of February.

Andy Cronin was rapt that a private business was paying for the additional week during what had become a long, hot summer with big numbers heading to the beach to swim.

"We are really excited it is a local business [that has] come forward to support us. We already get fantastic support from the New Plymouth District Council.

"The weather is so good and the water's really warm. We love to see people at the beach having fun."

The council had already allocated extra funds to the lifeguards to allow them to extend a limited weekday service by an extra week, but this finished last Friday.

The TSB Realty funds would allow the same limited patrols - from 4pm to 6.45pm - to continue until Friday, February 7.

This did not include Waitangi Day, which falls on Wednesday, when volunteer surf lifesavers at Opunake, Oakura, East End and Fitzroy would provide patrols.

Opunake surf lifesavers will be on duty from 11.30am to 4pm while the remainder will be on duty from 1pm to 5pm.

The water safety message continued to be to stay within one's limits in the water, watch out for yourself and others and be prepared, he said.

Children should be closely supervised at all times.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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