Bendigo to the rescue with surf club funding

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Three Otago surf lifesaving clubs have started the season with new equipment and upgraded facilities. St Clair Surf Life Saving Club has a new IRB and car, St Kilda Surf Life Saving Club renovated and reroofed its clubroom and Brighton Surf Life Saving Club has new racing boards after the clubs received grants from the Bendigo Valley Sports and Charity Foundation. The St Clair club’s chairman, James Coombes, said the new car meant the club could take its trailer off-site and would be more reliable when helping with search and rescues. Previously, it would not be ‘‘guaranteed someone would be able to assist’’.
The club had five fully functioning IRBs that had to be replaced on a regular cycle due to wear and tear, he said. The club received the car, a Mercedes SUV, halfway through the year and the IRB at the start of last season. Brighton Surf Life Saving Club got its new boards in October after receiving a $7000 grant. Club president Rebecca Aburn said the boards made a ‘‘huge’’ difference. ‘‘It just puts the kids that have the skills on the same par as the kids that have the skills and the money,’’ she said. In the past, members had to pay for their own equipment, which cost thousands of dollars, she said. Aburn said the new equipment meant if a board broke during a competition, they could swap it for another one ‘‘which we have never ever had the ability to do’’. ‘‘Now that we have the other boards we have the ability to not only give them to other kids but to have a backup board.’’ The St Kilda club’s president, Peter Gibbons, said the club recently reroofed and renovated its premises thanks to funding from the foundation and New Zealand Steel. The club received a ‘‘major’’ grant from Bendigo and had been able to completely reroof the building, Gibbons said. It had not been waterproof before the project was completed. ‘‘This year we have not actually got equipment as such but we have had a pretty significant grant . .. Bendigo is a strong supporter and they do what they can to help all the surf clubs that are in and around Dunedin city.’’