By Julia Wade
Local life savers were kept on guard throughout the recent holiday season, overseeing up to 1000 people enjoying the sands of Mangawhai Heads surf beach during the peak period, and supervising 250 bodies cooling off in the waters every day.
Mangawhai Heads Volunteer Lifeguard Service (MHVLS) president Jon Drucker says the club has over 50 active lifeguards who work an average of 2,000 hours per season, from Labour weekend to Easter, at the popular beach.
“Patrols conduct up to 100 rescues, first aids and searches per season and up to six after-hours search and rescues per year,” he says.
“In addition to providing weekly lifeguard patrols, we have also trained, and are poised to welcome, 16 new bronze qualified lifeguards after their test on February 4.”
From the beginning of the official season to present time, MHVLS has so far clocked up nearly 500 lifeguard hours, rescued one lucky person, assisted two people, administered to eight minor first aid incidents, and recorded over 500 preventative actions including speaking to beachgoers about strong currents and immersed rocks, and moving flags to show safe swimming areas.
Besides the lifeguards, MHVLS includes a large junior membership of children and families involved in the clubs activities, with ages ranging from seven to some in their 80s.
“Our junior surf program has swelled from 73 last year to 130, and we had 13 parents attending the Northern Region ‘Intro to junior surf coaching’ course last spring,” Drucker says.
“We also had 22 kids compete at Ruakaka in the Northern Region Junior Interclub on January 13 with some excellent placings, and 12 members are set to compete at Northern Region Championships at Omaha on February 3 and 4.”
Drucker says the club is grateful for the support from the community, especially with the recent door knock fundraiser on December 27 which raised money for the clubs annual operating costs.
“If we missed you and you'd like to support the Surf Club with a donation, you can contact us at through our website or email or just come on down and see us at the beach.”
The Mangawhai Heads lifeguard service has over 50 active lifeguards and 130 members in the junior programme. – PHOTO/JULIA WADE