Voluneteer Marine Rescue recognises life members

Volunteer Marine Rescue Bundaberg Annual General Meeting
Volunteer Marine Rescue Bundaberg performed 45 rescue activations this year, including towing this yacht back from Fraser Island. Source: VMR Facebook

Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) Bundaberg held its annual general meeting this week paying tribute to Roy Fuller and Bruce Smith, two life members who passed away during the year.

Bruce’s wife Dawn and son Jason attended the meeting to accept a 30-year service badge on his behalf.

President Erwin Hoffman said the pair would be sadly missed and plans were in place to ensure their legacies would be remembered.

“They were both integral parts of our organisation,” Erwin said.

With the organisation set to relocate, Erwin said their new boat shed would be named in honour of Bruce.

“Bruce was involved in all aspects of the organisation,” he said.

“He’s a past boat skipper, past president, represented the unit at zone and state level, and he was a maintenance officer.

“Bruce had an integral part to play in the design and manufacture of our current vessel that we have today and revitalised our rescue cradle that houses our vessel.

“So much so that our committee have actually voted that when we do move in to our new premises our boat shed will be known as the Bruce Smith Boat Shed.”

Erwin said at the new premises the training room would be named after Roy.

“These are long-standing members of our organisation.”

With a volunteer base made up of residents near retirement or retired he said it was a big achievement for Bruce to reach the 30 years milestone.

Change in committee as Bill steps down

Erwin said there had not been much change in the management committee other than Bill Ker stepping down.

Bill joined the organisation “at the tender age of 60” and has dedicated 21 years of service.

“Bill is our senior boat skipper and his enthusiasm and commitment knows no bounds,” Erwin said.

“Earlier this year he was awarded Rotary’s Brian Prince Volunteer of the Year award.

“We welcome Janelle Beckmann to the committee.

“Janelle is no stranger to VMR Bundaberg having been our membership officer for the last few years and a member for much longer.”

Bill will continue to skipper for Marine Rescue as part of a three person roster until other members complete the necessary training.

Marine Rescue Bundaberg Annual General Meeting
Crew member Tony van Wijk being presented with his Coxswains Certificate and epaulettes by State Training Officer Tom Hudson. Photo: Contributed

Erwin said member Tony van Wijke was very close to stepping up along with one other member, receiving his coxswains’ certificate and epaulettes by State Training Officer Tom Hudson at the AGM.

That will enable Bill to “step right back” from an active role however Erwin said they were grateful that Bill had offered to continue to assist where needed.

“He would be one of the fittest people of that age I’ve ever seen,” Erwin said.

“He’s just an incredible person. He does what most people can’t do at 60.”

Almost one rescue a week this year

Volunteer Marine Rescue Bundaberg recorded 45 rescue activations for the financial year, inclusive of police activations and waterside assists.

“It’s almost one a week but that’s not how it happens,” Erwin said.

“We only have three skippers turnabout week on call.

“On that week you might get three jobs and then not get a call for three weeks.”

Following the successful Family Fishing Classic fundraiser, the organisation was also able to replace two outboard motors with new Suzuki 325hp with money raised, a generous donation of $10,000 from Bundaberg Rotary and a grant for $35,000 from the Gambling Community Benefit fund.

“We thank Boats Galore for their support in this,” Erwin said.

He said the organisation did face some challenges, including its necessary relocation and maintaining its volunteer base.

“There is currently a State Government Blue Water Review looking into Marine Units and we hope that this will produce a positive outcome for us.”

About Volunteer Marine Rescue Bundaberg

Erwin said VMR’s main role was to provide an accredited marine search and rescue capability and also to maintain a Limited Coast Radio Station.

“We are primarily tasked by Queensland water police units and provide support to them,” he said.

“We also provide waterside assistance for boaties who have broken down, run out of fuel or suffer mechanical issues.

“We have a cost recovery in these instances.”

He said VMR crew members were placed in a potentially dangerous occupation.

“Our vessel is putting to sea when most ‘smart’ people are staying home.

“To that end training and more training is necessary to attain and maintain skills to an Australian Maritime Safety Authority standard.”

Marine Rescue Bundaberg services an area from Baffle Creek to the outside of Lady Musgrave Island, around to the outside of Lady Elliot Island and down the east coast Fraser Island to Indian Head and across to the Burrum River.

All open water with nowhere to hide should weather deteriorate. This is some 4000 square nautical miles.

Marine Rescue Bundaberg Annual General Meeting
Gary Howland was awarded an “Honary” membership by Unit president Erwin Hoffmann at the Volunteer Marine Rescue Bundaberg annual general meeting.