Sumner woman scoops two major awards at Coastguard National Awards of Excellence

Heather McDonald from Coastguard’s Sumner Lifeboat has received top honours for 23 years of dedication and unwavering support to saving New Zealanders’ lives on the water.

The Sumner woman’s commitment was acknowledged when she received the Hutchwilco Coastguard Volunteer of the Year Award and Century Yuasa Coastguard Rescue Vessel Volunteer of the Year Award at the National Coastguard Awards of Excellence Gala Evening, held in Auckland on Saturday.

Ms McDonald has been a valued member of Coastguard’s Sumner Lifeboat since 1991 and over the last year participated in 13 Search and Rescue and Coastguard operations, and given up weekends to travel to other units to train volunteers.

Coastguard New Zealand CEO, Patrick Holmes, says the annual awards honour the brave individuals and units who provide a crucial life-saving service to Kiwis using New Zealand waterways, “These awards celebrate excellence in achievement by Coastguard volunteers across the many roles they undertake in serving both their community and the organisation as a whole. In addition the awards allow us to recognize their dedication and provide an opportunity for acknowledgement at a regional and national level as well as amongst their peers.

“Heather has made an outstanding contribution to Coastguard’s Sumner Lifeboat and is not only adept in her own roles but also helps aspiring senior masters prepare for their practical evaluation, training and coaching them as they work towards the certification. She is very professional in her attitude to all her Coastguard volunteering and actively encourages co-operation between units.”

Laura Harry, Southern Region Vice Chairperson says, “Heather is a valued member of the Southern Region board. She has taken on the role of Chairperson and makes a valuable contribution to the board deliberations and decisions. Her experience as a volunteer crewperson, unit board member and trainer give her valuable insights into how the region can best build capacity in our units.”

Hutchwilco Sales and Marketing Manager, Tim Ritchie says they are proud to be associated with the Coastguard Volunteer of the Year Award, “We are told by Heather’s peers that she respects the different approaches units take to their operations whilst encouraging them to maintain a safety first culture, which is to be commended. At Hutchwilco, marine safety is top of mind as a proudly New Zealand owned and operated manufacturer and distributor of marine safety equipment, water sport and boat accessories.”

Century Yuasa is a new sponsor of the Coastguard Rescue Vessel Volunteer of the Year award and Ward Lye, Century Yuasa Sales and Marketing Manager says the bravery and selflessness displayed by Heather should be applauded, “One of our core values at Century Yuasa is to lead by example and this is what every member of Coastguard, including the exceptional Heather, displays every day they save lives.”

Coastguard keeps people safe on the sea, coastal waters and lakes of New Zealand. It is made up of over 2,300 highly-trained volunteers who put themselves in harm’s way on a regular basis to ensure the safety of New Zealanders nationwide. This year Coastguard’s courageous volunteers brought over 7,300 people safely back home and devoted over 315,000 hours to saving New Zealanders lives on the water.

About Coastguard New Zealand:
Coastguard is the charity that provides New Zealand’s primary maritime search and rescue service. The organisation operates from a network of four regions and 70 affiliated units, located around the coastline and major lakes of New Zealand. Coastguard New Zealand is a volunteer organisation with a charitable status. It has more than 2,300 active search and rescue Volunteers who provide over 315,000 hours of their time each year to educate, protect and help save lives at sea. Coastguard performs over 2,800 rescues each year assisting more than 7,000 New Zealanders. There are currently 78 dedicated rescue vessels in Coastguard’s fleet, 9 air patrol units and one dedicated communications unit. All crew members on board Coastguard vessels and air patrol craft are trained search and rescue personnel working to enhance the safety of all New Zealanders when they participate in boating and water activities.

  • Hutchwilco
  • Lotteries Grants Board
  • NZCT
  • Lion Foundation
  • Pub Charity
  • Century Batteries
  • Bellingham Wallace
  • Soudal