Bruce Bodsworth, of the Iluka-Yamba Coast Guard, selling raffle tickets in Grafton.
Bruce Bodsworth, of the Iluka-Yamba Coast Guard, selling raffle tickets in Grafton.

Fund-raising saves lives

THE sale of raffle tickets helped save the lives of at least two boaties along the Clarence Coast last week.

On New Year’s Eve, volunteers from the Iluka-Yamba Coast Guard and Wooli Marine Rescue responded to three emergency calls – two of the rescues saved lives.

But what many people don’t realise is that marine rescues in the Clarence Valley, like those on New Year’s Eve, were paid for with money raised through fund-raising activities such as the annual coast guard boat raffle.

Wooli Marine Rescue unit commander Stephen Reading said the only official funding the Wooli rescue unit received was $2500 a year from NSW Maritime.

However, the actual running costs for the organisation was around $15,000.

The shortfall of $12,500 had to be raised by volunteers through selling raffle tickets, seeking donations, registration fees and running boat licensing courses.

“The more of those courses we do, it helps significantly with our funding,” Mr Reading said.

But the true cost of running Wooli Marine Rescue would be much higher, according to Mr Reading, if you took into account the 10,000 unpaid volunteer hours dedicated to the service.

Over summer the Wooli Marine Rescue radio tower is manned every day from 6am to 4pm.

Funding wise, it’s the same story at Iluka, where the Iluka-Yamba Coast Guard is based.

The coast guard received funding for training but its day-to-day running costs were paid for by fund-raising.

One of its biggest costs was fuel.

On November 18, the Iluka-Yamba Coast Guard had to tow a 14-metre cruiser back to Yamba after it ran out of fuel just off Sandon.

Because of the size of the cruiser it was a slow tow with top speeds of 7.5 knots.

It took two hours to get to Yamba and the coast guard was left with a fuel bill of $340.

Deputy Commander of the Iluka-Yamba Coast Guard, Bruce Bodsworth, said in NSW no call-out fees were charged.

The coast guard footed the bill for rescues, unless boaties were kind enough to make a donation.

Luckily for the coast guard, Clarence Valley residents are big supporters of the organisation, with Iluka residents leading the charge.

“It’s unbelievable how Iluka families look after us,” Mr Bodsworth said.

“They say they look after us because we look after them on the water.”

This week volunteers from the Iluka-Yamba Coast Guard are selling tickets for its annual tinny raffle at Shoppingworld in Grafton.

It will be drawn on Easter Saturday. Both marine rescue organisations are always looking for volunteers.



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