National Award for Taranaki Surf Rescue Team
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Todd Energy Surf Lifesaving team members Andrew Cronin, Richard Matheson and Scott Nelson, along with coordinator Dave Bentley, won the Lifesaving of the Year award at the 2021 bp Surf Life Saving New Zealand Excellence Awards .
Securing four teenage girls stranded amid fading light and strong currents to safety, four rescuers from Taranaki won the Lifesaving of the Year title at the 2021 bp Surf Life Saving New Zealand Excellence Awards.
Todd Energy Surf Lifesaving team members Andrew Cronin, Richard Matheson, Scott Nelson and Dave Bentley were named the recipients when the awards were announced on Saturday.
The teens were abducted from Pararaki Rock in Back Beach in New Plymouth on January 5 after being trapped when the tide changed.
They called for help on a cell phone, and the police search and rescue team contacted the Taranaki SLS search and rescue team after dark.
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Lifeguard swimmer Cronin came to their aid. After checking for any injuries, he moved them to a more sheltered position and contacted the squad coordinator by radio Bentley to make a plan.
In the fading light, the group waited together for an inflatable lifeboat (IRB) driven by Nelson and piloted by Matheson.
Cronin helped two girls down sharp rocks and Nelson held the IRB in position against the strong currents so the teens could embark.
After bringing the two girls ashore, Nelson and Matheson returned to find the others.
Strong currents and low light meant there was no margin for error, the price wording says.
Night fell as all of the group returned to safety.
The Bentley team director, who coordinated the rescue, said he was delighted with the recognition from the team.
“It’s very humiliating,” he said. “It’s proof that teamwork behind the scenes is paying off. “
Usually there is an awards ceremony, but Covid-19 has ended it this year.