Editorial: Benefactor boosts surf safety

Last updated 05:00 14/11/2012

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OPINION: Heroes come in many guises and one of the latest ones to come to this media organisation's attention is Oakura man Don Harvey.

The retired farmer decided that he would subsidise the membership cost of any nipper joining the New Plymouth Old Boys' Surf Lifesaving Club. That has had exactly the effect Mr Harvey was hoping for, with nipper numbers at record levels.

His largesse has cost him about $1400 this year, but, typically, the retired coastal farmer says it is worth every cent.

"Hopefully, at the very least it'll prevent a few of them getting caught in rips. But I'm also hopeful the kids will end up being involved in surf lifesaving for life," he told The Taranaki Daily News.

It is important to note at this point that the contribution he made goes much further than that. It is in reality an investment for every community in Taranaki.

Oakura Beach is one of the most popular beaches used by families during summer and having an effective surf lifesaving club stationed there is vital.

That said, it is worth noting that other clubs around the region offer the same service, and would no doubt love to be the recipient of such largesse.

East End, Fitzroy, Waitara and Ohawe beaches are all popular beaches and with a long, dry, hot summer forecast, the health of our surf lifesaving clubs becomes of interest to us all.

While it is often seen as a sport, the primary function of a club is to do exactly as its name suggests - to save lives. By that definition, the sport is the only public service sport in existence and competition serves as a means of honing their ability to effect rescues.

The Tasman Sea stretches along a rugged Taranaki coastline and forms an integral part of our daily lives. Apart from the simple joy of swimming in the sea, there are thousands of people who enjoy surfing, sailing, fishing and diving every year, which is why we all have a vested interest in the health of our surf lifesaving clubs.

Many lifeguards are sensibly supported by both the South Taranaki and New Plymouth district councils, which is vital, particularly at the weekends when so many people are at the beach that club patrols are to the fore.

Taranaki clubs have always been well represented in winning national awards for their rescues and they are often made by off-duty lifeguards who see someone in trouble and instinctively react as they have been trained.

Often they are putting themselves at risk, but well-trained lifeguards have forged an enviable record in ensuring there has never been a fatality in this region from anyone swimming between the flags on a patrolled beach.

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NPOB club president Paul Barron said Mr Harvey's assistance was proving invaluable, and if his generosity succeeded in helping to put more volunteer lifeguards on our beaches then his work would be done and we would all be better off.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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