Singer-songwriter and Surf Life Saving ambassador Jamie McDell is encouraging Kiwis to show their support for the organisation's inaugural Winter Appeal from June 17-30.
Jamie says the Winter Appeal is all about raising awareness of the volunteer lifeguards who give up their summer to keep others safe at the beach. And that while most people are craving another summer, lifeguards are already training for it.
Hailing from the northern surf town of Mangawhai, Jamie never strays far from the sea. Acting as Surf Life Saving's ambassador since November last year, she has been put through her paces to gain her surf lifeguard qualification and she spent most of her summer patrolling some of the Coromandel's busiest holiday spots.
Last season around 3000 lifeguards, like Jamie, spent over 200,000 hours patrolling 80 beaches, saving over 1,600 lives. But the commitment doesn't stop there. Through the winter they will continue to train and up-skill so that they are ready to do it all over again next season.
Jamie says it's extremely important for lifeguards to continue their training during the off-season so that they can do the best job they possibly can over the summer patrol season.
"Training during the winter can be hard not only because of the colder temperatures but because Surf Life Saving is a voluntary service made up of everyday people. Our lifeguards consist of people who have other jobs and focuses during the year so getting everyone in one place can be difficult. But everyone is willing to do the best they can to advance their skills so even in the off-season we are continuously training, whether it's swimming, first aid, or IRB training camps," she says.
"I support the Winter Appeal so we can not only keep lifeguards on our beaches but keep the best lifeguards on our beaches," she says.
Jamie says most people don't realise that Surf Life Saving is a charity that relies on the public to keep them going.
"The signature red and yellow patrol flags are a common site on our beaches but Surf Life Saving needs your support to keep them there. Most Kiwis expect to see lifeguards on our beaches when they visit New Zealand's favourite playground- but what if they weren't there? Please show your appreciation for lifeguards and make a donation during the Winter Appeal so we can be there for you when you need us."
To support the Winter Appeal text WINTER to 4483 to automatically donate $3 or visit www.surflifesaving.org.nz/supportus to make a donation online.