Raglan Surf Life Saving Club member Tyla Kettle won the Under 19 Surf Lifeguard of the Year award at the Surf Life Saving Northern Region Awards of Excellence held in Auckland on Saturday.
Tyla has worked three seasons as a volunteer lifeguard for the Raglan club, and says winning the award was “definitely a surprise”.
The 18-year-old was involved in a number of high profile search and rescues in Raglan during the summer, including the search for Cory Edgecombe Lilley, who was caught in a rip at Ngarunui Beach in November. His body has never been found.
“It’s good to know that you are helping people out. It makes you feel good about yourself,” says Tyla, who lives in Hamilton and wants to become a paid surf lifeguard.
Tyla was nominated for the award by a fellow lifeguard after winning the intermediate guard of the year at the Raglan club.
During the summer, when Tyla wasn’t working as a volunteer, she spent time with paid lifeguards and visited other surf lifesaving clubs in an effort to “become a better lifeguard”.
Tyla says she loves being outdoors and the physical nature of being a surf lifeguard.
She says she became interested in becoming a lifeguard after attending a full-day Beach Ed course – a Surf Life Saving NZ safety course for students – in Raglan.
Surf Life Saving Northern Region chief executive Matt Williams says Tyla officially carried out 119 hours of volunteer patrol work, and many more behind the scenes.
“She has taken on roles mentoring younger and newer lifeguards, while constantly looking for ways to upskill herself.”
He says her abilities on the water were a significant asset and she has also found time to take up a role as a surf education instructor.
During the summer, volunteer and paid lifeguards in the northern region made 581 rescues, a 28 per cent increase on the previous year.
The lifeguards collectively worked more than 83,000 hours, and visitor numbers at the beaches totalled more than 453,000 people.
There were no drownings between the flags at the 17 patrolled beaches between Ahipara and Raglan in the northern region.