Li­ife­savers on pa­troll

Manawatu Guardian - - FRONT PAGE - By MERANIA KARAURIA

Life is a beach if you’re a surf life­guard.

Palmer­ston North Surf Life­sav­ing Club mem­bers Ab­bie Bognuda and Brit­ney O’Hara are pa­trolling Hi­matangi Beach with Fear­gus Scher­czer who is in New Zealand for six weeks.

They agreed their lives re­volved around surf life­sav­ing and are on paid duty Mon­day to Fri­day from 11am to 6pm and re­turn to the beach on the week­ends as vol­un­teers.

Ab­bie Bognuda, 17, a stu­dent at PNGHS, said she be­came in­ter­ested when some mem­bers of her fam­ily were life­guards.

“It looked like fun so I had a go on some of the equip­ment.”

She joined the Palmer­ston North Surf Life Sav­ing Club as a ju­nior at age 13 and at the re­quired min­i­mum age of 14 qual­i­fied as a life­guard and started pa­trolling on the beach.

She con­tin­ued her qual­i­fi­ca­tions to be­come a driver and IRB crew­per­son and re­cently qual­i­fied as a pa­trol cap­tain.

Brit­ney O’Hara, 18, has just fin­ished at Frey­berg High and said she’ll take a gap year in 2020.

Life­sav­ing is a core part of her fu­ture, and she also pa­trols at Fox­ton Beach on week­ends for the Fox­ton Surf Club.

O’Hara was a com­pet­i­tive swim­mer but an in­jury pre­vented her con­tin­u­ing.

She also joined the PNSLC at 13 years old and qual­i­fied as a life­guard at 14.

“I trained at the Lido dur­ing the week with the PN Surf Life­sav­ing Club and Ab­bie’s sis­ter.”

A sug­ges­tion they are self­less and fear­less are words not in their vo­cab­u­lary.

Both girls said ev­ery­one has their own skillsets they brought to be­ing a life­guard, the club, pa­trolling and at com­pe­ti­tions.

There were also the con­nec­tions they made at the camps where life­guards from around the coun­try came to train and where a lot of good friend­ships are de­vel­oped.

Fear­gus Scher­czer, 21, is a se­nior with the Royal Na­tional Lifeboat In­sti­tute on the north­east coast in the UK.

The RNLI has life boats and life­guards.

This sum­mer was an op­por­tu­nity for Scher­czer to take the po­si­tion of pa­trol cap­tain with the lo­cal life­guards on Hi­matangi Beach, and af­ter the stint, he’ll travel in the South Is­land be­fore head­ing back to the UK.

Although he started as a life­guard aged 18, Scher­czer said he surfed for years.

“We are re­ally well-sup­ported in life­sav­ing and it is en­cour­ag­ing. It is not elit­ist.”

The paid life­guard ser­vice which pa­trols Hi­matangi Beach Mon­day to Fri­day from De­cem­ber 16 to Jan­uary 24, is funded through grants from the Manawatu¯ District Coun­cil and Palmer­ston North City Coun­cil.

The club pro­vides the fa­cil­i­ties and equip­ment.

The PNSLC has been pro­vid­ing a com­mu­nity ser­vice to the Manawatu¯ Re­gion at Hi­matangi Beach since 1947.

Vol­un­teer Surf Life­sav­ing mem­bers pa­trol Hi­matangi Beach on week­ends from Satur­day, Novem­ber 30 to March 29.

PNSLC chair­man Alec Mackay says the club is al­ways look­ing for new mem­bers.

“There is a role for ev­ery­one within the move­ment.

“If you are in­ter­ested, come and have a talk with the life­guards on the beach or visit our web­site palmy­surf­club.wee­bly.com/.

“Our ju­niors con­tinue to train at the Lido ev­ery Sun­day morn­ing from 9am to 10am with the club’s swim coach.

“If you are keen to join, get your mum or dad to bring you to the pool with your togs and gog­gles and have a swim.”

The PNSLC nights are ev­ery Tues­day and Thurs­day nights from 8pm to 9pm at the Lido.

“The Tues­day and Thurs­day night pool ses­sions are run by our coach who will chal­lenge you to be the best you can be.”

■ Check the surf conditions on the Hori­zons Re­gional Coun­cil web­site be­fore jump­ing in the car with the pic­tures up­dated on the half hour: www.hori­zons.govt.nz/themes/ hori­zons/images/net­cam

GDN160120l­ife­guards

UK Royal Na­tional Lifeboat In­sti­tute life­saver Fear­gus Scher­czer is pa­trolling at Hi­matangi Beach with Brit­ney O’Hara (left) and Ab­bie Bognuda from the Palmer­ston North Surf Life­sav­ing Club.

Fear­gus Scher­czer is pa­trolling at Hi­matangi Beach with Ab­bie Bognuda (left) and Brit­ney O’Hara from the Palmer­ston North Surf Life­sav­ing Club.

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