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Coastguard thanks volunteers during National Volunteer Week

Coastguard thanks volunteers during National Volunteer Week

Coastguard will celebrate its extensive network of volunteers during National Volunteer Week 2014 which starts this Sunday, 15 June. The week recognises the invaluable contribution made by volunteers and acknowledges the dedication of those New Zealanders who donate their time to the community.

This year alone, over 2,400 volunteers will give more than 307,000 hours of their time and rescue more than 7,000 people on behalf of Coastguard, the charity that provides New Zealand’s primary maritime search and rescue service.

Four years ago Nicola Hockley began volunteering at Coastguard Canterbury to combine her love for the ocean and her strong belief of giving back to the community.

“My love for boating started when I was about six years old. I can remember sailing and pottering about in boats with my family,” says Nicola.

After many years sailing dinghies and trailer sailors with her family, Nicola’s passion for the sea led her to volunteer for the Spirit of Adventure Trust. For over ten years she assisted young New Zealanders involved in the leadership programme.

“I really enjoyed being able to help pass on important life skills such as team work, communication and leadership to the young adults involved in the programme,” says Nicola.

Nicola went on to become a member of the professional crew at the Spirit of Adventure Trust which required her to attain professional maritime qualifications. Three years later she started volunteering at the Coastguard Canterbury unit where she now holds the role of Vice President. For the past ten months Nicola has extended her volunteer service to include work as a Coastguard New Zealand board member.

The experienced sailor still recalls one of the first calls for help she received as a new skipper. The engine of a runabout that was towing a sailing yacht from Moncks Bay to Lyttelton Harbour for maintenance had broken down and both boats were drifting towards the rocks.

“It was the first time I really had to lead the operation and there were a number of challenges. It was dark and the yacht looked like it might end up on the rocks. I remember having to make a few quick decisions that meant we were able to bring the crew and vessels safely back to shore,” says Nicola.

This incident was an example of just how quickly things can go wrong on the water and the importance of being prepared for the unexpected.

“The two men involved in the incident had planned for a straightforward trip which went wrong very quickly. My sailing background certainly helped in this incident. It was an interesting way to start to my role as a Coastguard skipper!” says Nicola.

Coastguard New Zealand CEO Patrick Holmes comments, “Nicola is the perfect example of the role our volunteers play and their endless dedication, both on and off the water. It’s something we are very proud of and is testament to the generous values of New Zealanders.

“Coastguard simply would not be what it is today without the passion, hard work and skills of these amazing men and women. They give up their time, sometimes needing to put themselves at risk, to keep us all safe on New Zealand’s waters.

“Many people are often surprised to hear that Coastguard is a charity and we rely heavily on the many hours that our dedicated volunteers give,” says Patrick Holmes.

National Volunteer Week follows Coastguard’s MayDay appeal month raising much-needed funds to provide these volunteers with ongoing training to save lives at sea. For more information and to support the MayDay appeal visit


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