DHL Volunteer of the Year, Joanne Hobson, wants other surf lifesaving volunteers to know the importance of their contribution

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Media Release

22 September 2021


DHL Volunteer of the Year, Joanne Hobson, wants other surf lifesaving volunteers to know the importance of their contribution


Surf Lifesaving New Zealand (SLSNZ) depends on its 4,500+ Surf Lifeguard volunteers across the country. Without these volunteers, the work necessary to help improve water safety and get people home safely from the beach simply wouldn’t get done.

Joanne Hobson, a member of Sunset Beach Lifeguard Service, is one of these volunteers, and this year she’s been named DHL Volunteer of the Year at the SLSNZ Awards of Excellence. With her extensive involvement in surf lifesaving, it’s easy to see Joanne as a well-deserving recipient. Her contributions run far and wide. She coordinates the Sunset Search and Rescue Squad, works on the Management Board of Sunset Beach LS and also trains, coordinates and works on Honours and Awards committees at a club, regional and national level.

“It's very special. I never expected it. Anyone who volunteers their time doesn’t go into it expecting anything. But to get the recognition of the New Zealand Volunteer of the Year is a big thing,” says Joanne.

Joanne also holds a Peer Support role at her club. It’s easy to see her ongoing commitment to her mentorship of new surf lifeguard candidates, from the first contact to obtaining their award. “It's funny, my Master's was in mentoring and professional development in relation to education and teaching. So I've tried to use the skills that I've learned from teaching in that way,” Joanne explains.

Joanne was co-opted onto the Surf Lifesaving Board for the Northern Region in December of 2020 and is one of the two board-appointed members of the Surf Lifesaving Review Steering Group for the Northern Region.  She also leads the Regional Honours & Awards Committee. Her national assignments include being on SLSNZ Junior Advisory Group, National Honours & Awards Committee and an initial review of the Surf Official Level 1 Training Project. 

Joanne is a valued member at Sunset, within the Northern Region and nationally. Despite being the volunteer receiving the award this year, she wants every volunteer to know that their contributions, no matter how big or small, don’t go unnoticed and are hugely appreciated. She says, “It's always the few who do a lot, and it would be great to have a lot do a little. Anyone who does anything, I think they should be extremely proud of themselves and carry on if they can”.

Between roles as a Chief Instructor, Event Administrator, Surf Official, Examiner and Course Facilitator, Joanne spends nearly every weekend at the beach - sometimes on patrol as well. Joanne sees her work as an excellent chance for self-development and helping others. Along with that, she’s hopeful it will encourage children and young people to stay safe on the beach and educate their families by sharing the same skills.

Busy with many responsibilities to manage, Joanne has still made the time to connect with others she’s worked with. “There have been a lot of people who've supported me, and I've worked with across the years. The experiences were richer for all of those people,” says Joanne.

Joanne is a shining example of what it means to be a volunteer who goes above and beyond the call of duty. Surf Lifesaving New Zealand is lucky to have her and so many others in the ranks, helping protect those who visit New Zealand’s beaches.