Kiri is a digital journalist for bayofplentytimes.co.nz.

Maketu volunteer wins national award

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Maketu first responder Shane Beech is to be honoured with a certificate of achievement for his commitment and services to search and rescue. Photo/John Borren
Maketu first responder Shane Beech is to be honoured with a certificate of achievement for his commitment and services to search and rescue. Photo/John Borren

One of Western Bay of Plenty's longest-serving firefighters and Coastguard volunteers has been honoured for his tireless service to the region.

Maketu Coastguard's Shane Beech was given a Certificate of Appreciation for his commitment and services to search and rescue at the New Zealand Search and Rescue Council Awards in Wellington.

Maybe the biggest misconception is that I get paid for it but I don't. I do it for the love of it.
Shane Beech

Mr Beech, who also works as Maketu's chief fire officer, founded the Maketu Volunteer Sea Rescue Service in 2002 and was instrumental in founding Coastguard Maketu and the establishment of the Coastguard building. He also represents the Maketu community as a board member of the Western Bay of Plenty District Council and runs the Maketu Beach Holiday Park.

Mr Beech said the certificate was "a huge honour".

"I feel quite humbled about it to be honest. To be recognised for the work I've done, it's not something I do to be recognised for," he said.

"Maybe the biggest misconception is that I get paid for it but I don't. I do it for the love of it. I don't think there's too much more too it really."

Mr Beech has volunteered as part of Maketu's first response emergency services for the past 27 years. He is Coastguard Maketu's first president and is still in the vital role eight years on.

He is also a senior operational crew member and manages projects to upgrade the unit, including the building of the Coastguard Rescue Vessel Eastpack Rescue boat and the Coastguard facility at the Kaituna Cut where it berths.

Mr Beech said he accepted the certificate not only on his behalf, but that of his wife Raewyn's also.

"She deserves 99 per cent of it. She's the one who holds the fort when I'm not here. She's definitely my right-hand person, without a doubt. It's definitely an honour to be able to take her down to Wellington too."

It was rewarding to know he has helped people in what were sometimes critical emergencies, Mr Beech said.

However, one of the biggest challenges was responding to a lost boat or fatal car crash when the people involved were known to him, Mr Beech said.

Read more: The Bay's coldest start to the day so far

"There a very good chance you will know the people involved, that's more the scary part of it. The challenge part of it is having the skills and ability to help them in a crash as it may be. No two are the same. Every situation is different and we treat it that way, hoping for a good outcome," Mr Beech said.

Keeping up to date with technology and skill sets were important, especially as firefighters were often responding to more car crash rather than house fires, he said.

Mr Beech said he would not be able to do his job if it were not for the work of his volunteer colleagues.

"At the end of the day, they do the hard work as well," he said.

"I'm surrounded by good people, good volunteers who have the same dreams and ambitions for their community."

Mr Beech's continued passion for the betterment of the community carries into his involvement with Youth in Emergency Services, which encourages and strengthens the ties that youth have with their community through volunteering with emergency services.

Coastguard Maketu
Since its inception, Coastguard Maketu has spent 822 hours on Coastguard operations, taken 86 direct calls for assistance, and assisted 275 people. They have participated in seven search and rescue operations, resulting in the rescue of 18 people and saving the lives of 7.
- New Zealand Search and Rescue Council

- Bay of Plenty Times

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