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Station 15 (Mossel Bay) celebrates its 50th anniversary on 1 May 2021. It’s a significant milestone that is being commemorated with the publication of what promises to be an exciting, emotional and personally charged collection of stories about the station’s history, crew and the supportive community that surrounds them. All proceeds from the book’s sales will go towards the station’s new Offshore Rescue Craft (ORC). Station commander André Fraser tells us more about the story behind the stories.There can be no greater sense of satisfaction than seeing a project reach fruition. Especially when the seeds for that project were planted a little over a decade ago. Station 15 (Mossel Bay) station commander André Fraser recalls the overwhelming feeling he had in 2010 to begin documenting the base’s history. He realised that decades of amazing rescues and stories would go untold if the crew or community members who experienced them were no longer with us. The wealth of those experiences would be lost to future generations. The only way to preserve the heritage of the rescue base and, indeed, its influence on the community and vice versa, would be to write about it, preserving it in book form.It was a few years later in 2014, André met Dr Jopie Coetzee, a mine engineer, who joined Station 15. It was during his interview that André discovered Jopie was an avid writer. “I told him about my idea to write a book about the station’s history,” André says. Unfortunately, Jopie only stayed in Mossel Bay for three months before being offered a position at a university. Two years later, André was on holiday in Storm’s River when one of his deputies called him to deliver a “strange message”. It was from Jopie: “So, how far is your book?”André was keen to pick up where they had left off, and as soon as he returned home called Jopie. “I told him, ‘It’s with great shame that I have to admit, it has got no further than when we last spoke.’”The making of a bookThe call provided the momentum needed to kick-start the project. Jopie was in the process of forming a writers’ guild in Mossel Bay and the two men “tossed around a few ideas to get the process going”. The first step, naturally, would be to find writers, and two local writers Erna Maritz and Luzette Jacobs and a third, living in Wilderness, Anneldi Morkel, were approached to join the project on a pro bono basis. They all agreed without hesitation. The editorial team also included Glenda Maritz and Keith Carey from the station and, of course André and Jopie.But André is very quick to add that the entire station became involved with the project. Volunteers were invited to contribute accounts of rescues, milestones, memories and photographs. “Our station community and the community of Mossel Bay all had a part to play. So much of this book is a reflection of emotional stuff, emotional in that readers will feel the camaraderie, the buy-in, the help, the good faith in people; they’ll know how Sea Rescue assisted the community and the how community has assisted Sea Rescue. It portrays all the good in people.” The idea of family springs to mind and that family goes far beyond the base building’s walls.About Mossel Bay 1971-2021 Golden Jubilee The reader is invited to a front-row seat to experience 50 years of miraculous rescues out at sea, personal stories and anecdotes, and other milestones involving boathouse builds and the growth of the station’s assets. The reader will gain insight into what happens behind the scenes during a rescue, how crew members try to process what may be tragic outcomes – spoken from the heart and in volunteers’ own words.“Members of the community really rallied around the development of the Golden Jubilee book, with funding, research material, sharing of memories and volunteering professional and creative services,” André notes. “The book is dedicated to the highly trained volunteers who defy the ocean and manage the station with passion and commitment.”To find out more and preorder your copy, please contact the publisher at more articles on Mossel Bay
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