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Media Release

Top honours awarded to marine rescue volunteers
Sunday 5 October 2014 – 8:00 AM
Three marine rescue volunteers and two groups were recognised last night for their outstanding contribution to helping protect lives at sea.
The 2014 Volunteer Marine Rescue Services (VMRS) Awards were presented across five categories, with volunteers from Albany, Coral Bay, Kalbarri, Naturalist and Windy Harbour taking out top honours.
The Albany Sea Rescue Squad took out the VMRWA Award for Excellence in Group Operations for their daring search and rescue mission off the coast of Albany on New Year’s Eve.
The Paul Kimber Award for Excellence was awarded to Nigel and Vanessa Kelly for their instrumental role in overseeing the construction of a new rescue base in Windy Harbour.
The DFES Award Recognising Outstanding Personal Contribution was presented to Kalbarri Sea Search and Rescue Group Commander Barry Kennewell for his outstanding commitment to the service, particularly in community education and awareness.
The VMRWA Commanding Officers Award was presented to Naturaliste Volunteer Marine Rescue Commander Geoff Brierley for his exemplary contribution to the service, holding the post of Commander for over 21 years.
The Coral Bay Volunteer Sea Search and Rescue Group won the Department of Transport’s Excellence in Marine Safety Award for their campaign to encourage boat users to register with emergency services.
Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Wayne Gregson congratulated the 2014 award recipients.
“With the water a large part of the Western Australian lifestyle and the popularity of recreational water sports, our marine rescue volunteers have never been busier,” Commissioner Gregson said.
“Volunteers attended over 2,100 incidents, events and training sessions in 2013-14, shaping the VMRS as a strong, vibrant organisation that the marine community can rely on in times of need.
“The award recipients should take great pride in their achievements, standing out among the 1,600 marine rescue volunteers who donate an enormous amount of time and energy to ensure the safety of West Australians on the water.”
The VMRS attend a range of incidents including search and rescue missions for lost people and vessels at sea, assisting vessels in trouble to shore and recovering grounded and submerged vessels.
The recipients of the 2014 VMRS Awards are:
Paul Kimber Award Recognising Excellence in VMRS
Nigel and Vanessa Kelly, Commander and committee member Windy Harbour Volunteer Marine Rescue Group
This husband and wife team have been instrumental in building a new rescue base overlooking the ocean in Windy Harbour. This dynamic duo worked on the project from beginning to end. This included selling the old building, raising funds for the new building and then overseeing the design and building of the new premise. The whole project took over 18 months, and was an overwhelming contribution in a voluntary capacity.
DFES Award Recognising Outstanding Personal Contribution by a VMRS Volunteer
Barry Kennewell, Commander Kalbarri Sea Search and Rescue Group
Kalbarri Sea Search and Rescue Group Commander Barry Kennewell was recognised for his outstanding commitment to the service, consistently being available day and night to provide assistance. The success Mr Kennewell has achieved in community education and awareness has been reflected by the numerous comments the group receives from visiting boaties.
VMRWA Award for Excellence in Group Operations
Albany Sea Rescue Squad
The Albany Sea Rescue Squad was awarded for their team efforts during a search and rescue operation on New Year’s Eve in 2013 to find two kayakers off the coast of Albany. In deteriorating weather conditions, whilst looking for the kayakers they found a windsurfer clinging to rocks and performed the first rescue of the day. In heavily reduced visibility the team found the first kayaker before continuing the search and finding the second kayaker clinging to an esky with her dog. Their local knowledge and planning throughout the incident resulted in a successful result within one and a half hours.
VMRWA Commanding Officers Award
Geoff Brierley, Commander Naturaliste Volunteer Marine Rescue
Naturaliste Volunteer Marine Rescue Group Commander Geoff Brierley was recognised for his exemplary contribution to the service, leading the group for over 21 years and still counting. Over the years Mr Brierley has worked tirelessly conducting training, raising funds for the group and managing building extensions to carter for improved resources. He has also assisted many Volunteer Marine Rescue Groups lodge building submissions, drawing on his expertise as a commercial draughtsman. Mr Brierley has represented the South West Region at the former FESA Consultative Committee and VRMWA association level for numerous years.
Department of Transport Award for Excellence in Marine Safety
Coral Bay Volunteer Sea Search and Rescue Group
The Coral Bay Volunteer Sea Search and Rescue Group were identified as worthy recipients due to their initiatives in public safety. In a high tourism area where many on the water may not have extensive boating experience, the Group has developed a strong campaign to encourage boat users to register their boats and trailers with emergency services. This is of particular importance given the large reef system in and around Coral Bay. The Coral Bay Volunteer Sea Search and Rescue Group have targeted messaging at boat ramps and local areas to promote awareness of log on-log off protocols. The Group collects information from the public to facilitate search and rescue operations should a vessel not log off at its prescribed time. This service, free of charge to the boating public, greatly increases the safety and awareness of those visiting Coral Bay.
For more information about the VMRS Awards visit www.dfes.wa.gov.au/awards
Media Contact: DFES Media and Corporate Communications on 9225 5955


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