Coastguardian Stories

A Lifesaving Legacy

Leaving a gift to Coastguard in your Will can have a huge impact. Just ask Coastguard Waiheke Island.

Coastguard Waiheke Island recently had its mooring disrupted by an upgrade to the Matiatia Wharf. But thanks to a friend and neighbour, who left them a gift in their Will, they are looking to work with Auckland Transport to design and put in place a permanent mooring that will see Coastguard Waiheke Rescue remain at Matiatia. It will also provide them with a safe berth pontoon with electricity and a water supply. The Coastguard volunteers are counting their blessings as the donation gives volunteers like Robb Henry (pictured above) the peace of mind their lifesaving work won't be compromised.

As you can see, leaving a gift, or bequest, to Coastguard in your Will makes a practical difference to our brave volunteers who are committed to saving lives at sea. No matter what the amount is, a bequest truly is a life-saving gift.

>> Find out more about leaving a gift in your Will to Coastguard


Coastguard stalwart turned Coastguardian - Dianne Gilroy

Dianne Gilroy is a very special volunteer. Not only has she volunteered for two Coastguard units, she has also decided to leave a gift in her Will to Coastguard – making her one of our very special Coastguardians.

Dianne has been involved with Coastguard for the past nine years. She started out as a volunteer for Coastguard Papakura, but when she made the move down south she decided she would stick with Coastguard and join her local unit in Riverton.

"I feel I'm doing something valuable at the same time as doing something I enjoy," says Dianne. "I also enjoy the sense that I am doing something for others and a sense of doing something for my country... as well as the odd adrenaline rush!"

Dianne loves the camaraderie and friendship she's found within her volunteering experience, and hopes her gift will show her fellow volunteers how much they mean to her.

“Coastguard has given me some wonderful opportunities and experiences that I have so enjoyed. They have made me feel like part of a strong family and I wanted to give something back. I hope my bequest will enable each unit to choose to put the bequest towards what they decide is important.

"I have felt very proud to be a part of Coastguard and I wanted to do something for them for giving me that feeling and the opportunities within it."

As a volunteer, Dianne knows from personal experience just how much it costs to train and run each and every Coastguard unit.

"Coastguard do an amazing service for New Zealand and yet are so under-funded. They deserve every penny they can find. I know what it costs each Coastguard unit just to train each member, to fill the fuel tanks, to maintain the motors and all the other “behind the scenes” expenses.

"I stood many a Saturday or Sunday outside Mitre 10 selling sausages just so the unit could fill the boat with fuel for another week.

"Each unit has their own unique needs and I hope my bequest will enable them to put the bequest towards what they decide is important for them."

Thank you Dianne for your years of dedication to Coastguard, and the lifesaving gift you have given to your fellow volunteers.

>> Find out more about leaving a gift in your Will to Coastguard


Andrew Blockley – From Rescued to Rescuer

For 25 years, Andrew Blockley has been a committed and dedicated volunteer at Coastguard Wellington. But his loyalty to Coastguard has extended much further than volunteering, as Andrew has decided to include Coastguard in his Will – becoming a proud Coastguardian and having his legacy live on to help save many more lives at sea.

Andrew’s story begins 55 years ago, when at just 11 years old he and his mother were rescued by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). Andrew’s family were holidaying in the Isle of Anglesey in the UK, and Andrew and his mother decided to row their boat from a cove out to the beach – a trip of about half a mile expecting to take two hours to complete.

They set off in their row boat with Andrew rowing and his mother at the stern. But with no experience at rowing and no rudder on the boat to help them stay in the right direction, Andrew and his mother were quickly pulled into an outgoing tide and swept 200 metres out to sea.

Starting to panic, Andrew took off his red sweater and waved it around, hoping it would attract someone on land to come and help them. His mother was terrified, but all she and Andrew could do was sit in their tiny row boat in the vast sea and hope someone would help them.

An hour passed, and the joyous sound of a helicopter could be heard. Andrew and his mother looked out into the distance and saw a cutter being pulled by about 14 men who had come from the local life boat station. Incredibly relieved to have been found, Andrew and his mother were taken aboard the vessel and returned safely to shore.

After Andrew’s ordeal, he joined the local Sea Cadet Corp and rose up through the ranks, continuing to be a volunteer when he moved to New Zealand in 1977.

It was Andrew’s experience of being rescued and his involvement in the Sea Cadet Corp that then spurred him on to become a volunteer for Coastguard.

“It was always at the back of my mind,” says Andrew. “It was an inevitable thing that was going to happen. Once I got involved with Sea Cadets I appreciated the involvement of dealing with problems on the sea, and that’s how it all came about.

“Becoming a volunteer became an indoctrinated thing. It was something you committed yourself to doing so you stood by your commitment.”

Andrew has been with Coastguard Wellington for 25 years now, starting as an active wet crew member and now volunteering as a Radio Operator. He recently made the decision to include Coastguard in his Will, as he believes in supporting Coastguard’s growth and enabling it to flourish.

“The organisation has to grow with the times. It needs support, and I won’t be able to continue to give as much support as I get older.

“I decided to give a bequest to Coastguard – it’s not a great deal of money, but it’s enough for me to say thank you for what they did for me back then and to thank the people who have supported me while I’ve been here in New Zealand with Wellington Coastguard.

“I suppose in a way it’s my way of saying thanks to the organisation.”

A huge thank you to Andrew who has given so much to Coastguard and whose support will continue to save lives at sea for many years to come.

>> Find out more about leaving a gift in your Will to Coastguard


The Celia Knowles Bequest Journey

Hawke’s Bay is one of the largest and most loved areas for boaties in New Zealand, and on its beautiful shores resides a rescue vessel dedicated to the memory of a proud Coastguard supporter.

Celia Knowles Rescue was launched at a special ceremony in 2009 and is named after the late Celia Knowles, a Napier resident and keen Coastguard supporter. Celia’s lifelong interest in boating and support for Coastguard saw her leave a gift in her Will for the purpose of saving lives at sea, where she specified it should be used to fund a rescue vessel in her local community.

It was her incredible contribution that meant Coastguard Hawke’s Bay had the funds they needed to build a new rescue vessel to cover one of the largest Search and Rescue areas covered by a Coastguard unit in New Zealand. She covers tremendous distances to rescue people in need, from Table Cape in the North, to Aramoana, Blackhead, Poranghau and Karakau in the South.

Celia’s bequest to Coastguard Hawke’s Bay meant that in the past eight years, volunteers have had a highly capable rescue vessel that has carried out 250 search and rescue missions to save lives at sea. A number of those assists and rescues have been up to 40 miles offshore.

Today, Celia Knowles Rescue has brought well over 200 people home safely and will continue to serve the people of Hawke’s Bay for years to come, ensuring Celia’s legacy lives on and her generosity will never be forgotten.

>> Find out more about leaving a gift in your Will to Coastguard


Meet Coastguardian Chas Strange

Chas’s first flotilla was made out of totara fence posts when he was a boy in the King Country. For 27 years he’s been a live-aboarder and his vessel Twilight can usually be found in the Whangaroa Harbour.

Chas recommends the wonderful lifestyle of being a live-aboarder. Having recently celebrated a significant birthday, Chas told us, “Living aboard keeps you young, fit and healthy…old age is wonderful when you consider the alternative!”

Over his lifetime this adventurous old sailor has built nine vessels himself, some to his own design, and his most recent boat Twilight was launched just three years ago. Chas and his boat are a familiar sight around Whangaroa Harbour.

Chas really does have the sea in his blood. His book, A Strange Live-Aboarder, has been many years in the making and draws on his vast experience of building and sailing ventures up the New Zealand Coast.

Chas recently told us of his fantastic decision to leave a gift to Coastguard in his Will.

“Volunteers are dedicated people, putting themselves out there for people who are in peril or distress on the sea; really, they put these people ahead of themselves in a very unselfish manner. I admire them and always have admired them. I have been a Coastguard member for many, many, years and it’s a pleasure to make a bequest.”

Bob Kidd and Judy Worden, who both volunteer for Coastguard Whangaroa and know Chas personally, held a special presentation evening for him at Whangaroa Sport Fishing Club. It was a wonderful opportunity for Coastguard to acknowledge and thank Chas personally for his generous and lifesaving gift.

Judy was able to award Chas with the very special Coastguardian pin. She said, “Chas is part of the Whangaroa family…..he’s a bit of an icon around the place.”

At becoming one of our very special Coastguardians, Chas said, “Initially I was a little overwhelmed, but when presented with the pin I was really quite chuffed about it and will wear it with pride”.

Thank you Chas for being a great bloke and a loyal Coastguard supporter.

>> Find out more about leaving a gift in your Will to Coastguard


It takes considerable funds to train and equip our volunteer crews. Lives depend on their skills and we need to find $5,000 to fund their training for one week. A gift in your Will, big or small, could help pay for wet weather gear, life jackets, safety equipment, rescue vessels and training that ensure our crews are able to respond swiftly in a crisis and with equipment that is fit for purpose. Gifts in Wills enable our Kiwi heroes to continue saving lives at sea.

If this is something you might consider or you just want to find out more, with no obligation, please fill out this short form.


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