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‘Little’ Riversdale club wins big

Riversdale surf life savers are strictly voluntary. PHOTO/FILE

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Riversdale Beach Surf Life Saving Club punched above its weight to win club of the year at the Capital Coast Awards of Excellence on Saturday night.

The small club on the Wairarapa coast competed with other Capital Coast clubs, including Levin/Waitarere, Otaki, and Lyall Bay, to earn the accolade.

“It’s a great little honour for our club,” chairman David Rose said. “It’s acknowledgement of the hard work that the guards do on the beach and the support we get from our community.”

Rose said its presence on Riversdale Beach and its ability to respond to first aid situations in the community was vital.

He said RBSLSC was the only club in New Zealand that did not have wages fully funded by its local council.

The club had asked for $20,000 in funding from Masterton District Council to take pressure off its costs.

After 87 submissions about the club, the recommended funding had been set at $15,000 a year for three years, according to the agenda for MDC’s Long Term Plan deliberations, which continued yesterday.

“We’ve got our fingers crossed that we will receive funding, but we have to wait and see,” Rose said. “We know that we have the full support of the community.”

Riversdale lifeguards were often called upon to act as first responders until ambulances could arrive at medical incidents on the coast.

Committee member Jane Tiley, who won Volunteer of the Year.

“If you’ve got a club in one of the cities like Wellington, in most cases, an ambulance is only 10 or 15 minutes away, whereas we’re 45 minutes away.”

One such incident happened on New Year’s Eve last year when a quad bike travelling at speed flipped, seriously injuring the young driver.

“If we hadn’t been there … there could have been a loss of life,” Rose said. “I’m pleased that our team responded and were able to keep these kids okay until rescue services arrived.”

At Saturday’s ceremony, RBSLSC won a recognition award for its handling of another quad bike incident that happened in 2020.

Individual Riversdale Beach Surf Life Saving Club members were also recognised for their contributions at the awards.

Jane Tiley, one of two first responders for the Riversdale emergency call-out squad, was recognised as volunteer of the year for her constant presence at the club for about 14 years.

Tiley attributed the award to the hard work of all the club’s volunteers.

“I just do what I need to do – my piece in the puzzle – to keep the club rolling along as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

Club captain Mike Taylor with the Top Instructor for the region award.

In the past year, Tiley helped redevelop the club’s nippers programme to cater to steadily increasing demand. The programme trained juniors from five- to 14-years-old daily during summer.

“We never want to close off our programmes to anyone, so it was looking at how we could deal with that effectively and safely.”

Fellow first responder Mike Taylor was named top instructor for the region.

“It’s very nice to get recognised, but you do it for the kids, not yourself,” Taylor said. “To see them become legends from the time you first start off with them is what I do it for.”

Taylor had more than 25 years of experience in surf lifesaving.

He instructed future lifeguards through an initial course at Masterton pool, including theory and swimming lessons. He then took students out to the beach to experience a variety of conditions.

“Those that enjoy it go on to be really good people.”

Riversdale now competes at the National Awards of Excellence later this year.

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