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A chance visit to the island of Boracay in the Philippines back in 2013 as part of the Festival of the Wind Lifesaving Competition sparked a passion for helping develop the skills of lifesavers internationally for one North Coast club member.

Kyle Beattie and a team of eager volunteers across the NSW Far North Coast have been working overtime this winter to ensure that the fledging Vietnamese lifesaving community has access to some of the equipment that Australians sometimes take for granted.

A shipping container of boards and rescue tubes generously donated by Australian surf clubs was transported to the South East Asian nation in late July, and in a country where the risk of drowning remains significant it will surely be put to good use.

So how does a 22-year-old who lives closer to Dreamworld than Da Nang become involved in international lifesaving development?

“I first became involved in David Field’s International Projects in the Philippines as I was part of a tour to Boracay that was organised in May. There were five guys from Cudgen SLSC heading over and knowing that there was a new IRB that needed setting up in the Philippines they asked me along to give them a hand,” said Kyle Beattie.

“I absolutely loved the experience of training and competing over there and have visited the Philippines twice more to help with training in Boracay and further north in Zambales. Vietnam has always been a country that I’ve wanted to visit so when David announced that he was going to be doing some international development programs there I jumped at the chance.”

Invigorated by his experiences and accepting the reality that international visits would have to be squeezed in between study, work, and life commitments Kyle’s attention turned to how he could contribute from home.

“We’ve had a free shipping channel to the Philippines for a few years, and shipped a number of boards and tubes over to be distributed in Zambales, Boracay and Cebu. A challenge for David in Vietnam was trying to get equipment, so I came up with an idea to hire a whole shipping container, fill it up and ship it over,” Beattie said.

“David had raised some money through his work in Vietnam to help fund the initial container and I was put in contact with James Sparke from One Global Logistics. James and his team not only organised everything for us, but donated the sea freight from the Port of Brisbane to Da Nang!”

Prepping the boards and first aid equipment for shipping was a six month labour of love as the young lifeguard first had to store all the boards and equipment before bubble-wrapping them all with the assistance of his mother.

“I’m very excited for this first shipment to arrive, and I hope it’s the first of many to come! My aim from here is to raise awareness about this project. I would like to be able to expand to more countries as well, but for now its baby steps,” said Kyle Beattie.

“Sending over forty rescue boards sounds like a lot, but spread them between all the Lifeguards David has been training along the coast of Vietnam and it’s not really that many. I hope to be able to fill and ship another container to Vietnam in the next six to twelve months as well as offering continued support of the Philippines,” he said.

Clearly the experience has fuelled his desire to continue to help developing lifesaving nations, and eventually ship more advanced equipment to ensure that these countries have access to equipment that is a fundamental part of patrolling on an Australian beach.

For further information please visit the Boards Abroad Facebook Page.


Wednesday 28 September 2016