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We chatted to NSRI Awards Committee chairperson Carmen Long about the 55th annual ceremony, which highlighted some amazing feats of bravery.

This past month, the NSRI held its 55th Annual Awards Evening at the Premier Resort - The Moorings in Knysna. This year, the awards were given a makeover by Long and her team. “I’ve been working with the marketing team since last year to get a new design for the awards. I wanted to give them a refreshed look, so that when people received them, they would be proud to show them off,” she says

Being chosen for an award is a rare and prestigious honour, as the nominees all have to be vetted by the awards committee.

“I go through all of the NSRI’s press releases and then put forward recommendations for winners,” says NSRI Awards Committee Chairperson and Deputy Commander of Station 8, Carmen Long. “In addition to this, anyone is allowed to contact me and recommend someone for an award. If I don’t have all of the information about the person, I’ll collate it and present it to the committee. The committee reviews the suggestions and then we agree on what award should be given.”

These suggestions can include people who are not NSRI volunteers. “Our guidelines specify that we have awards for NSRI members like long service or gallantry awards. And then there are some awards for members of the public. There have been amazing rescues, where members of the public have been super brave, while being cautious at the same time,” Long explains.

One of these awards was given to kite-surfer Klaus Heinrich, who saved four lives. When he noticed two kids having difficulty in the water, he quickly fetched his kite-boarding equipment and managed to reach the two students. He then used his kite board to guide them back to shore. The students were able to stay afloat with a Pink Rescue Buoy.

“We simply had to acknowledge him,” Long says. “The Pink Rescue Buoy project has saved so many lives. Those are mainly rescues done by members of the public, with safe equipment that we supply. I’ve spoken to some of the award winners, and they have said that without the Pink Buoy, they would never have gotten in the water. The nice thing is, when these rescues are recognised with an award or we send out a press release, we’re also educating the public on projects like this.”

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