Sumner Lifeboat volunteers acknowledged

Southern region manager of Coastguard New Zealand Cheryl Moffat presents Peter McDonald with his certificate for 40 years service.

Six members of the Sumner Lifeboat Institute were recognised for their service to the organisation at the weekend.

Peter McDonald was given the Coastguard certificate for 40 years service.

Peter joined in 1977 and went on to skipper a number of lifeboats and surf rescue jet boats. In 1981, he was on the jet boat Aid II returning from a call out when the vessel capsized in surf opposite Head St, Sumner. Although the vessel was written off, there were no casualties. This prompted a rethink of the gear worn on inshore lifeboats, pointing the way toward modern-day wetsuits. After a stint as deputy to coxswain Walter Baguley, Peter was coxswain from 1995 until his retirement from active crew in 2001. He remains on reserve and has life crew member status.

•John Barton received the silver bar for 20 years service.

John hung around the fringes of the Sumner Lifeboat until 1997. His son Nigel was on the crew, and he thought it best for family relations if he didn’t join up until Nigel left. He has since been a handy skipper of the jet boats and on the crew of the offshore lifeboats. John has been around long enough to see many changes including the introduction of Coastguard’s structured training programme and certificates of competency. He is one of the rare breed who is just as happy to remain onshore as to go to sea. His knowledge of Land Rovers and local geography made him very useful as shore crew. One of the most likeable and humble members of the crew, he has – with typical grit – made a remarkable recovery after suffering a stroke in late 2016.

•Blair Quane was awarded a silver bar for 15 years service

Blair joined the crew in 2002 and continued the strong link between Sumner Lifeboat and Sumner Surf Lifesaving Club, which began when the lifeboat acquired its first IRB and adopted the surf lifesaving training programme in the early 1990s. Surf club training produces excellent lifeboat crew and Blair jumped right in, training the crew on the IRBs and skippering the jet boats.

After the earthquakes, the siren which had been on the Sumner Community Centre needed a new home. It was a time when everyone had more pressing priorities and there was no obvious alternative location. Blair cut through the red tape and had the siren installed on its own post at the front of the lifeboat station. It is great to hear the former air-raid siren sound again, signalling to the local community that Sumner Lifeboat is active, and reassuring those nearby needing rescue that help is on the way.

Following Paul Lawson’s retirement, Blair was elected coxswain in 2015 and has worked tirelessly on the seemingly never-ending list of projects which lifeboat continues to produce.

•Ashley Rule gained a silver medal for five years service

Ashley joined Sumner Lifeboat in 2012 and has attained senior operational crew status in the unit. He has recently taken on the role of station officer, involving general maintenance and upkeep of the lifeboat buildings and vehicles. This important role enables the unit to operate effectively at all times and Ashley ensures that even the smallest jobs like changing lightbulbs are done. Over the last five years, Ashley has been a dedicated crew member, keenly involved in both trainings and rescues and instrumental in many of the station’s electrical upgrades, including the reinstatement of the lifeboat siren and backup generator establishment.

•Chloe Harris received a silver medal for five years service

Chloe joined Sumner Lifeboat in 2012. She is a senior operational crew woman and has been actively involved in both call-outs and training. Chloe brings a high level of swimming ability to the unit and is a great asset for any in-water rescues or training which the lifeboat does. She has a real passion for open water long distance swimming and has completed solo crossings of both the Foveaux and Cook straits.

She has a real passion for open water long distance swimming and has completed solo crossings of both the Foveaux and Cook straits.

As one of few female’s on the crew, Chloe has fitted well into the unit and her friendly dedicated personality is always welcome.

•Mike Barber (right) was given a certificate for three years service

Mike Barber joined the unit in 2014 and, as a local resident and avid mariner, he quickly fitted in. He is always available for those call-outs during the week when other crew are at work. Mike brings a good knowledge of practical boating experience to Sumner Lifeboat and some excellent wisdom and learning for some of the newer members. He is always keen to get stuck in no matter what the circumstances.