Nelson Coastguard president Wayne Harrison with the Unit of the Year award, while other volunteers from the group hold various other awards they won at the regional awards last month. Photo: Andrew Board.

Coastguard wins best unit award

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Nelson’s Volunteer Coastguard has beaten eight other units to clean up at the regional awards, winning best unit, best rescue, best volunteer and best community relations.

The unit won four of the six awards on offer at the Central Coastguard Awards last month and will now head to the national awards in Taupo later this month, where they are entered in each of the categories they won at regionals.

New president Wayne Harrison says the awards are a great honour and show just how well the unit works as a team. “We all support each other and have a great spirit, so it does mean a lot to us to earn these awards.”

Nelson won Unit of the Year for its combination of how they apply the training and incident management.

Its Community Relations award was for engaging with the community, including helping during the Tasman Bay Snapper Classic and the Boulder Bank walks that are hosted by the Nelson North Lions Club.

Rescue Vessel Volunteer of the Year went to Haden McCorie for a rescue off D’Urville Island, which features on this week’s front page of the Weekly.

Rescue of the Year was for  pulling a waka-ama paddler out of the water off the Boulder Bank last autumn.

Wayne says the rescue started after police received a call saying a waka-ama boat was found at the beach on the Blind Channel with radio equipment on board.

“The reason we got the award was more to do with how the whole system worked, we had the police, a guy up on the cliffs doing the spotting for us. He actually said he spotted something and directed us towards the guy in the water. All he had was a wetsuit and a lifejacket and he did say that it was actually the first time he’d worn a lifejacket. He was in the water for an hour and a half, so the lifejacket saved his life.”

From when the rescue boat was launched until the man was plucked from the water was nine minutes.

“He started off in Blind Channel and we picked him up on the other side of the Boulder Bank, near the light house. He’d been in the water for an hour and a half and he had boats go past him, but he wasn’t able to get their attention.”

Eight volunteers from the unit will head to the national awards in Taupo on October 15.