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Volunteers make VMR proud

By Mark Beale

MONDAY was a proud day for the Whitsunday Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) organisation, with two of its members receiving Australia Day awards.

VMR Life Member Tom Manning was named as this year’s Senior Citizen of the Year – an award he accepted to the strains of rapturous applause.

At the age of 78, Mr Manning continues to power on, tirelessly devoting his time to both his family and the Whitsunday VMR.

Monday’s MC John Powell, said Mr Manning was highly experienced with more than 300 official VMR search and rescue training missions, totalling more than 1000 hours of on duty activations – all of which have been recorded since his retirement.

Mr Manning is also a fully qualified Open Coxswain and VMR Skipper and this year was acclaimed as a Life Member by his peers.

At VMR he holds the high ranks of Search and Rescue Coordinator, 24-hour phone holder and Senior Crew Member.

When off-duty, he spends countless hours fundraising through sponsorships and securing financial grants.

“His empathy for his fellow seniors and the mobility impaired community has culminated in the VMR formally adopting an ambitious plan, accompanied by highly feasible funding opportunities, to install elevator access and redesign the VMR’s radio base,” Mr Powell said.

“Once completed, this will enable the VMR to widen its radio operating hours and introduce a vessel sign on, sign off service to the marine loving public.”

Fellow VMR member Gay Bowden was the recipient of the 2015 Wally Hinschen Volunteer of the Year Award.

Mr Powell described Ms Bowden as “a prolific volunteer” across a wide range of community organisations in the Whitsundays.

“She juggles her personal commitments to provide help whenever required,” he said.

Ms Bowden’s involvement with the VMR has seen her working tirelessly on the search and rescue vessels as a crew member and also at the emergency radio base. “Gay is always there to help with a smile and she is the first to put up her hand up to organise social occasions,” Mr Powell said.

“She is an extremely valuable volunteer and very deserving of this award.”

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