The Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service was pushing to raise the remaining funds needed to finish its new headquarters at the base of Mauao before Christmas.
New Zealand Avocado chief Jen Scoular has been made the club's honorary patron to help spearhead efforts to complete the new $3 million multi-purpose clubhouse.
"I have wonderful memories of the Mount beach and huge respect for the lifeguards who, mostly as volunteers, safeguard the beach and Mauao for us," Scoular said.
The new purpose-built facility would better enable lifeguards to train and compete, but mostly to patrol and rescue, Scoular said.
"We are building a community facility, and hope this rebuild better allows the community to engage in the activities of the club," she said.
Construction of the new building had begun thanks to generous grants from funding partners, but more money was needed to finish the project by Christmas.
Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service chairman Paul Manning was delighted to confirm Scoular's appointment as patron.
"Jen has shown a real infinity and interest in what the club does and has a lot of respect in the community," Manning said.
"We are thrilled to have her on board and would like to sincerely thank Peter for his service as patron over the past nine years."
Scoular will take over from surf lifesaving stalwart Peter Fitzsimmons (OBE).
"It goes without saying that Jen's commercial expertise and networking abilities will be a huge asset in our quest to build a world-class, multi-use community facility and ensure the Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service continues to evolve successfully in future," Manning said.
Dominique Paduch has been appointed the new fundraising lead and will work alongside Scoular to bring the Lifeguard Service's dreams to life.
Paduch said the recent Ladies Long Charity Lunch raised $100,000 for the project which was a "phenomenal start" but a further $900,000 was still needed.
"Our new building will give us greater visibility from the lifeguard tower for rescues, better access to equipment so we can respond faster, and a dedicated emergency operations base," she said.
"That means our core lifeguard duties won't be disrupted by functions, events or emergency service operations, and vice-versa, as has so often been the case in the past."
Paduch said Tauranga's "population explosion" meant lifesaving services were needed more than ever.
Last season volunteers spent more than 5000 hours patrolling our beaches, undertaking 1,782 preventative actions to stop 17,540 people getting into danger, completing 57 lifesaving rescues and 15 search and rescues.
"We urgently need the public's help to finish what we've started. You don't need to be a lifeguard to be a life-saver – simply by giving generously today, you will help save lives tomorrow."
To donate, visit mountlifeguards.co.nz/donate/