WOMAD New Zealand’s lifeguards ready for duty thanks to TSB
Audiences can’t get enough of the lifeguards on duty lakeside at WOMAD New Zealand’s picturesque TSB Bowl of Brooklands stage in New Plymouth.
A more common sight on the beach than at a park, inquisitive festival goers are quick to snap pics of WOMAD’s lifeguards decked out in their yellow rash tops, red boardshorts, and sunhats, and armed with life preserver fins.
“People at WOMAD are fascinated by us,” laughs lifeguard Reebekah Robinson, who has volunteered at WOMAD during the past two years.
“People come and chat with us and take photos, which probably go all around the world. It’s a great chance to promote what lifeguards do.”
And, just like at the beach, the WOMAD lifeguards are prepared to jump into the lake if need be and assist people to get out again safely.
Reebekah belongs to New Plymouth’s East End Surf Life Saving Club, one of the four clubs in the region to provide lifeguard services for WOMAD NZ. It’s a gig that’s understandably very popular with the lifeguards.
“It’s great to get to see a bit of the festival, while helping out the club,” says Lucy North, who explains that two lifeguards are stationed at either end of the lake front for six-hour stints.
“Even when you’re on duty, you’re still in the atmosphere and able to listen to the music. It’s really cool,” Alex Paterson adds.
The teenagers haven’t had to put their lifesaving training to use at WOMAD yet, with festival goers tending to leave splashing in the lake to the resident ducks.
As well as being a WOMAD NZ partner, TSB is a major supporter of Surf Life Saving New Zealand.
At the end of last year, TSB gave the East End club a $5,000 grant to pay for a new rescue board, two radios and four rescues tubes to support the volunteer beach patrols. This was part of $100,000 in grants the bank gave to clubs across the country in addition to its ongoing partnership with Surf Life Saving New Zealand.
“Without the support of sponsors such as TSB, New Zealand would not have the paid lifeguard services on the country’s beaches during the summer months, which everyone benefits from,” East End lifeguard Andrew Carley says.
East End Surf Life Saving Club grants co-ordinator and patrol captain Hywel Davies agrees.
“The fact that TSB supports local and national Surf Life Saving is absolutely pivotal for us. It allows us to buy essential equipment to do our job, which is saving lives.”
TSB CEO Donna Cooper says seeing lifeguards at the ready beside the TSB Bowl lake at WOMAD last year made her smile.
“WOMAD and Surf Life Saving New Zealand are our two main partnerships and we’re really proud of what they contribute to our community. I think it’s pretty cool that the volunteers who give up so much of their time each year to keep Kiwis safe at the beach, also get to do that at the best festival in the country!”
CAPTION: East End Surf Life Saving Club lifeguards (left to right) Reebekah Robinson, Lucy North, Andrew Carley and Alex Paterson are used to striking a pose for WOMAD NZ audiences.