Fraser Coast waterways are set to become safer for all to enjoy with Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) Hervey Bay preparing to build a new $1.3 million marine rescue vessel. The construction of Rescue I, will finally get underway thanks to a $400,000 Significant Grant from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland.
With increased tourist numbers and boating activity off the Fraser Coast, VMR identified a need for the 11.94 metre vessel, raising more than $767,000 and securing $160,000 of State Government funding via Marine Rescue Queensland. Despite their best efforts they remained under budget, until now.
Commodore of VMR Hervey Bay John Smith said Rescue I would enable the organisation to be sustainable in the long-term and continue its life-saving work.
“We are the third busiest VMR site in Queensland, providing essential marine search and waterside assistance services to the boating public off Queensland’s Fraser Coast,” Mr Smith said.
“In the past year alone, we have helped 409 people, responded to 124 calls for assistance from disabled vessels, responded to four sinking or sunk vessels, rescued 5 grounded vessels and conducted 50 medical evacuations and 13 search and rescue missions.
“This marks a new era for VMR Hervey Bay and we thank all those who have helped bring this initiative to fruition, particularly the Masonic Lodges of the Wide Bay region for championing this grant and Hand Heart Pocket for making it a reality.”
Wide Bay Freemason Peter Keller said the Masonic Lodges of the Wide Bay region recognised the incredible work VMR Hervey Bay does for the local community and supported the Hand Heart Pocket Significant Grant.
“Over the years, Lodges in the Wide Bay region have provided grassroots support to a range of charitable initiatives, with the help of Hand Heart Pocket,” said Mr Keller.
“We are appreciative of Hand Heart Pocket for providing this Significant Grant on behalf of the Freemasons of Queensland to help cover the funding gap. It’s a proud day for us, knowing that this will have a lasting impact on our community for many years to come.”
Hand Heart Pocket’s Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said Hand Heart Pocket was dedicated to assisting charitable organisations to deliver essential services.
“We believe in providing sustainable support by giving a hand up – not a handout – to communities, charities and individuals that would otherwise have limited access to other funding sources,” Mr Mark said.
“VMR Hervey Bay provides the Fraser Coast community with life-saving services and Hand Heart Pocket is delighted to help bring this project to fruition.”
Photo: Representatives of the Wide Bay Freemasons alongside Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark and Commodore of Volunteer Marine Rescue Hervey Bay John Smith.