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Michael Kelly: age is no barrier to helping your local community

This Thursday 1 October marks the 30th Anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons, and at the Marine Rescue NSW Batemans Bay Unit, 78 year old Michael Kelly is proving that despite the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic, age is no barrier to helping your local community.

Above: Michael Kelly - photo Marine Rescue NSW

In 1998, and newly retired after a career in Australian Customs, Michael moved from Canberra to Batemans Bay and began looking around for his next challenge. With some experience in sailing, and having had a bit to do with boats in Customs, the then Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol seemed an ideal fit.

In his time as a volunteer Michael has tried a variety of roles, including Operations Officer, trainer and Deputy Unit Commander, and despite his 78 years is still training and assessing other volunteers and spending at least one day a month out on the water undertaking crew duties.

In his time Michael has put his training expertise to good effect on numerous occasions, including many rescues far out to sea in difficult weather conditions. One rescue nearer to home stands out, however. A boat was spotted overturned in the bay in rough conditions, and a crew sent to respond. Tragically three people had perished. It was one of those times, said Michael, all your training kicked in – you didn’t have to think you just did it.

A valued member not just of his unit, but the whole Marine Rescue NSW family, Michael received an Emergency Services Medal in 2018 as recognition for his service to the community, a proud moment for him and his fellow volunteers.

For older Australians thinking of volunteering at Marine Rescue, Michael’s advice is to come along and get involved. “There’s lots of friendly people and great camaraderie. You also get to help out your local community,” he said.

“There’s plenty of variety too, from helping service the boats to radio work, fundraising or being a crew member on one of the boats. You’re sure to find something that suits you.”

To volunteer at Marine Rescue NSW, go to https://www.marinerescuensw.com.au/become-a-volunteer/

The United Nations International Day of Older Persons is on Thursday 1 October. www.un.org/en/observances/older-persons-day

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