Beach safety project volunteers awarded

Hout Bay Neighbourhood Watch (HBNW) Beach Safety Project held their annual awards at Spiros on Saturday following a successful run during the summer holidays.

Tammy Matthysen, who manages the Beach Safety Project, said they had volunteers patrolling the beach over the period of December 14 last year to January 13 this year with only one incident.

“Our volunteers patrolled from 8am to 6pm, which are made up of six shifts per day. They are kitted out with patrol kits, radios and they receive training beforehand,” said Ms Matthysen.

“The only incident we had over this holidays was a surfboard that got stolen in the parking lot, but no muggings or drownings. Last year, we also started our first winter patrol between April and May because we had a few muggings on the beach, so we had our eyes and ears out there,” she said.

Ms Matthysen added that there is a need for beach safety and that they are currently in discussion with the Hout Bay SAPS about continuing the winter programme this year.

The Beach Safety Project launched 10 years ago when SAPS approached HBNW to assist with beach safety because they did not have the resources to patrol the beach at the time.

And, at the end of every season, Ms Matthysen arranges an awards evening to thank the volunteers who gave up their free time for the safety of the community.

“We get members of the community and local businesses to donate the prizes and awards are given according to who put the most patrols in, but in the end, everyone gets something. I’ve been part of the programme since the start when we were just a few people on the beach. There’s been a good response from people who want to help out and this year we had about 75 patrollers. It’s not just one person who makes this project successful, it’s really a group effort,” she said.

Mark Cowell, Jeanette Bronchi and Carin van der Berg won first, second and third placed prizes respectively based on how many shifts they put in. Other prizes included Mike Rigg for the K9 unit, Kevin van Niekerk from Watchcon control room for his efforts towards the project and the balance of the prizes were given to the patrollers via a lucky draw.

If you would like to get involved in the Beach Safety Project, email Ms Matthysen at beach@hbnw.co.za