Awards for country’s leading lifesavers
WITH light fading fast, Far North lifesavers waded through pummelling three-metre swells and strong currents to save two divers stranded for more than five hours on rocks under the cliffs at Tapotupotu Bay, near Cape Reinga.
Thom Anderson, 30, student Anthony Walker, 17, and fellow lifesavers Tony Walker and Kate Clarke were 125km away in Ahipara when they got the call to help on March 9.
Despite the wild conditions, they returned the divers to the beach before 8.30pm, just as darkness was closing in.
Last night, their heroic efforts were recognised as they won the Rescue of the Year at the Surf Life Saving New Zealand Awards of Excellence.
Club members from around the country gathered at the Heritage Hotel in Auckland for the presentation of the awards.
Levin-Waitarere’s Nathan Berry, 27, won the title of Lifeguard of the Year for his work at the club, which included holding multiple senior roles and mentoring others.
Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Kate Suter from Sumner Surf Life Saving Club.
The Far North’s Thom Anderson, a firefighter for the Ahipara Fire Brigade, said being a lifesaver was something special he could give back to the community.
‘‘I like helping people and seeing their reactions from people when we save them I’m going to stick with it for as long as I can. Being a life saver you end up being part of a really big family.’’