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Committed team at Marine Rescue Wooli receive medals

AWARDED: Stephen Reading, Jackie Taffs and Bernie Gabriel - three of four recipients of National Service Medals for service with NSW Marine Rescue Wooli.
AWARDED: Stephen Reading, Jackie Taffs and Bernie Gabriel - three of four recipients of National Service Medals for service with NSW Marine Rescue Wooli. Adam Hourigan

FOR some members of the NSW Marine Rescue Wooli unit, the sound of a radio is ever-present, lulling them to sleep at night.

It is still with them as they gather by the unit's rescue boat for a photo.

"We're expecting a call at 3pm for a vessel, but you never know when they might arrive,” Unit Commander Richard Taffs said.

It is for the constant watch they keep over the waters around Wooli that four of their members were presented with National Medals last weekend.

Jackie Taffs, Steve Reading and Richard Taffs were rewarded for their 15-plus years service from the instigation of the Wooli unit, alongside Lou Grayson, who transferred to Wooli in 2011.

The National Medal recognises long and diligent service by members of recognised government and voluntary organisations that risk their lives or safety to protect or assist the community in times of emergency or natural disaster.

The Marine Rescue Wooli unit may be the smallest of the 45 units in NSW, but it performs the same vital role of safety at sea, with a rescue vessel, marine radio coverage and education programs. The medals were presented by Northern Rivers regional director, Bernie Gabriel ESM, at a unit function on Saturday night.

"We've made the commitment to our community to make sure we provide a safety at sea service for the Wooli coastline,” Mr Taffs said.

"We are the smallest unit with only 17 members, but still need to operate a rescue vessel and radio base 24/7.”

While the river entrance provides the major hazard for the area, the group looks after an area containing offshore reefs, popular diving areas with strong currents as well as hazardous surf conditions.

"The people here have made that 24/7 commitment have taken that unit from a VRA unit to change over and join Marine Rescue NSW from its very inception,” Ms Taffs said.



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