Fitzroy surf lifesavers take national awards
For Todd Velvin, surf lifesaving is not just a job, it's a passion.
The Fitzroy Surf Lifesaving instructor won two awards at the Surf Lifesaving New Zealand (SLSNZ) Awards of Excellence in Auckland on Saturday night, taking out DHL Instructor of the Year and also a Distinguished Service Award.
The father of three said it was a privilege to be recognised.
"It's quite a surprise and quite an honour to be recognised for the work we've done in the region," he said.
The 43-year-old has been involved in surf lifesaving since starting out as a lifeguard in 1988, inspired by his parents who had both been involved since their teens.
"They used to go to the beach when we were kids, and it was just sort of a natural fit. When you start with surf lifesaving it's pretty hard to give up."
His three sons, Colwyn, 11, Niwa, 9, and Tae, 6, are now all involved.
"It's just seeing people succeed and be challenged and grow through the movement, and that's why I keep going back and giving so much back to the young people.
"It's just a great bunch of people.
"I'll be in it for long, long time."
He said his favourite memories in the sport were winning a couple of national titles and competing alongside his father, Brian - announced last night as the new president of SLSNZ - many years ago.
"Not many people get to compete with their father in a national event and win a medal as well. I hope to do that with my boys as well."
He said Taranaki was a great place for surf lifesaving.
"All the four clubs in Taranaki work really well together. There's always a bit of rivalry on the beach but we're always there to help each other out with the life guard side of it.
"With the skills they learn in Taranaki you can be a life guard anywhere in the world."
He would "absolutely" recommend the sport to anyone, and said he had seen a lot of young people grow in the environment, even finding jobs through that growth.
"Anybody that's looking at wanting to find an activity I always recommend surf lifesaving.
"That reward of actually helping people is such a great feeling and great feelings let people succeed."
Fitzroy's Wendy Clough and Darren James also won Service Awards, and Opunake's Michael Gibbs was awarded a 50-year badge.