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Volunteer Marine Rescue celebrates 50 years

VMR Bundaberg 50
The VMR Bundaberg team are getting excited to celebrate 50 years.

From the high seas to flooding suburbs, the Burnett River and out to Fraser Island, the search and rescue efforts of Volunteer Marine Rescue Bundaberg has spanned every inch of the region and beyond during the past 50 years.

Those involved will celebrate the organisation's milestone anniversary next month, with past members and the community invited to join in on the festivities.

VMR Bundaberg was established on 1 November 1972 under its original title of Bundaberg and District Air Sea Rescue Squad.

The name was changed to Volunteer Marine Rescue Bundaberg in 1996.

Skipper Glenn Vertigan said the organisation was made up of a team of passionate volunteers who covered an area of 4000 square miles.

“Their roles include boat crew for our two rescue vessels, radio operators for our Limited Coast Radio Station which is part of the Queensland marine radio safety network, and support staff,” he said.

“The support staff includes training and education, administration, fund raising, and boat and building maintenance.

“Many of our volunteers perform multiple roles within the organisation.”

Glenn said over the past 50 years members had been involved in a range of significant events.

“During the floods of 2010/2011 and 2013, Volunteer Marine Rescue Bundaberg was called upon to effect rescues and assist the yachting community in the flooded Burnett River”, he said.

“We were awarded the Queensland Flood and Cyclone Citation for our efforts.

“There have also been many rescues that have taken up to 20 hours, including multiple searches and rescues of vessels from the other side of Fraser Island.

“One memorable rescue was of two people on a disabled yacht from the continental shelf, with the help of HMAS Melbourne.”

VMR Bundaberg 50
A special memorial book has been created to celebrate the 50-year history of VMR Bundaberg.

When they are not participating in life saving missions, Glenn said the team were proud locals who were always on hand to support the community, and the favour was always returned.

“Our major fundraising event, the Family Fishing Classic, has been running since 2006 and has been a huge success mainly because of the very generous support of our sponsors and the efforts of VMR volunteers,” he said.

“This event raises much needed funds to help replace and operate our primary rescue vessel.”

To commemorate 50 years of Volunteer Marine Rescue Bundaberg a Public Open Day will be held at the Burnett Heads base on Sunday 6 November.

“An anniversary book, which documents our history over 50 years, will be for sale at the event,” Glenn said.

“The day will also include displays by agencies that we work with, such as LifeFlight, Marine Safety Qld and Water Police.

“There will also be VMR Bundaberg memorabilia, a flare demonstration and our primary rescue vessel, Bundy Rescue 2, will be open for inspection.”

Glenn said a special dinner for past and present members would also mark the occasion.

He said the celebrations would come at a busy time for the crew, with plenty of activities happening on and off the land this year.

“This year has been the busiest for activations for five years,” he said.

“We are very proud of the way we have supported the boating community over the 50 years and are looking forward to continuing for decades to come.”

The Volunteer Marine Rescue Bundaberg base is located at 51 Harbour Esplanade, Burnett Heads.