Gareth du Plessis
(Photo : South Coast Sun)
SOUTH AFRICAN LIFESAVER OF THE YEAR
And speaking of waves, in his lifeguard “life”, Winklespruit’s Gareth was last week crowned South African Lifesaver of the Year.
Sometimes, we have to pinch ourselves and ask whether this really is happening. Summerhill took the National Breeder’s titlefor the fifth consecutive year in August; last month Hartford House was rated the country’s top restaurant in the House and Leisure/Visa Best of SA awards, and now another associate, Gareth, goes to the mountaintop.
The award returns to Winkle’s shores for the first time since 1979. Having had a whirlwind lifesaving career spanning close on six years, Gareth has made a name for himself on the lifesaving circuit for being the ultimate lifeguard and his accolades show this.
In the last year he performed 225 hours of beach patrol duty, an outstanding contribution of volunteer service to the community, as well as 16,5 hours as an inflatable rescue boat (IRB) driver for the club.
Just after completing matric in 2004, he started lifesaving at Winklespruit Surf Lifesaving Club as a volunteer. In 2006, he became squad leader and club vice captain for the first time all in the same year. Besides dedicating his life to the beach, Gareth is a graphic designer and works a normal nine to five job. “For me lifesaving has been a part-time commitment because I enjoy the fulfilment I receive from serving my community and the people that visit it” says Gareth.
Winklespruit Surf Lifesaving Club chairman, Neville Hazel says “The award is a huge honour for the club and Gareth. This feat has made other clubs stand up and see that we’ve arrived”. Among his glittering awards is the IRB crewman award, IRB driver award and Winklespruit lifesaver of the year for three consecutive years.