Marine Rescue Wooli, Unit Commander Richard Taffs was acknowledged for his voluntary contribution to the service, at an informal morning tea held at the Grafton Council Chambers recently.
Mr Taffs was named in the 2015 Queens Birthday honours list after receiving the Emergency Service Medal (ESM).
Clarence Valley mayor Richie Williamson welcomed members from other units including the Iluka/Yamba Marine Rescue Unit who attended to pay tribute to Mr Taffs for his years of voluntary service.
“Its people like this that makes the Clarence Valley special and it’s important we acknowledge his (Mr Taffs) contribution to marine rescue and the community,” said Cr Williamson.
Mr Taffs said that he was surprised to receive the award as there are 45 Marine Rescue Units across NSW and the Wooli Unit was the smallest in the state, with only 18 members.
“I’ve been the Unit Commander of Wooli Marine Rescue for seven years,” he said.
“I accept the award with pride, but it’s always a team effort, not just me.
“Marine Rescue is a not for profit company and isn’t government funded – unlike the State Emergency Service (SES) or the Rural Fire Service (RFS).
“It costs $30,000 a year to run our unit.”
“We do get a $12,000 subsidy from the government, but the rest we have to find ourselves.”
Richard thanked his wife Jacki, who is also a member of the Marine Rescue Unit.
“She is a great support and wonderful people person,” he said.
“She (Jacki) is particularly good in the area of ‘incident stress’ (where people have lost a vessel, etc) and caring for people’s needs and welfare.”
“She is the heart and soul of the Wooli Marine Rescue.”