The club committee has established the Waikanae Surf Lifesaving Club Endowment Fund at The Sunrise Foundation to build a sustainable income stream to support the club over the long term.
Grant Bramwell, Waikanae Chair, says after the immense response from the community with support for their building project, they were encouraged to think about alternative ways to fundraise for the future. He added that whilst the club is now finished, with its beachfront location the ravages of mother nature will ensure the club will have large costs in maintaining and improving its facilities, as well as the ongoing costs of purchasing and maintaining rescue equipment.
“For nearly 70 years we’ve survived through the support of the local community and charities. Those traditional funding sources aren’t enough to support the club anymore. We know from the phenomenal public support we had for our building project that there are a lot of people, not just in Gisborne, who want to support the club and we see our new endowment fund as a way they can do that.”
Founding member Barry McLean, who has been involved with the club since 1950, believes the fund will ensure a means of income that “they don’t have to go begging for”.
“A lot of parents coach and encourage younger members and if they can concentrate on that, rather than fundraising, it would be ideal.”
Barry, along with Dick Glover and Alistair Thorpe, are members of “Dad’s Army”, the older generation of Waikanae members who meet regularly for workouts in the clubs new gym. Dick says their thrice weekly gym sessions end up exercising their jaws more than anything else, but is also a time where they talk about the club and how it’s getting on.
Dick has been with the club since 1954, both of his daughters, and their children, are also involved now. He and his family have done countless fundraising activities, he even remembers carrying a pig in a coffin around pubs to sell raffle tickets. “There’s not so much of that kind of fundraising around anymore, times have changed. But I can see that this new fund has the potential to fill fundraising gaps and have a long term benefit for the club.”
Sean Shivnan, Waikanae Committee, says in terms of community impact, the value delivered through surf lifesaving is hard to match. “Our qualified lifeguards provide over 1,500 hours of volunteer beach patrol every year, and have effected over 250 rescues, that’s a huge benefit to our own community as well as visitors that like to enjoy the beach when they come to Gisborne. We are proud that in our clubs history no drownings have occurred in the patrolled area between the flags at Waikanae.”
Sean added that equipment is a huge expense for the club. “We have up to 200 people on the beach on Sunday mornings, parents with their children, learning together how to look after themselves in the water. Many of those young people don’t have access to the kind of equipment we provide for them.”
“The club not only provides a valuable public service, it also helps to build kids into great adults. The values, discipline and skills they learn, stay with them for life, even if they do not continue on and qualify as surf lifeguards in later years.”
Kristina Williams children attend nippers at the club and she is a patrolling lifeguard. She was one of the first on the scene when dozens of passengers were injured in a horrific bus crash near her home on Christmas Eve 2016. She knows her surf lifesaving training helped her respond.
“Right from the start of that night I recalled my training. I kept trying to remember everything, and I could hear the voice of my surf lifesaving first aid instructor – keep safe, comfort the injured, check for breathing, bleeding, signs of shock.”
Kristina is worried funding shortages are putting pressure on the number of weeks lifeguards around the country can volunteer their services, and she encourages more funders to step up.
“Everyone uses the beach but if we’re not careful, the volunteers keeping them safe won’t be able to provide the services expected of them.”
Alistair Thorpe, Dads Army member, knows there are many people who have been involved with or been helped by the club over the years. “When we did the building project we were overwhelmed by the support we had, not just from Gisborne, but from people all around New Zealand and even overseas. There are a lot of people that have a strong connection to us and want to help.”
Glenda Stokes, Sunrise Executive Officer says the new fund is the perfect way for those people to give back to a club that’s done so much, for so many. “A donation to the Waikanae fund will keep on helping the club forever. It’s a really meaningful way to show support to a small club that has given so much to our community over nearly 70 years.”
All donations to the Waikanae Surf Lifesaving Club Endowment Fund will be invested, protected and grown to keep up with inflation. The surplus investment income will be returned to Waikanae Surf Lifesaving Club each year.
The Tindall Foundation supports community foundations across New Zealand.