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WanakaSAR stalwart recognised

WanakaSAR volunteers (from left) Geoff Wayatt (life member), John Burke, Dr Julian Petit, Phil Melchior, Bill Day (chair), Aaron Nicholson, Jonathan Walmsley on the Doubtful Sound fundraiser.

Wanaka Search and Rescue volunteer Phil Melchior has been awarded a life membership to the service.

Melchior has been a search and rescue volunteer for 16 years and was head of LandSAR for six years.

Former WanakaSAR police coordinator Aaron Nicholson presented Melchior with the award and said he had been an asset to the service.

“The contribution Phil has made has been outstanding,” Nicholson said. “He has gone from volunteer to manager, to secretary, to treasurer and a fundraiser who makes things happen,” Nicholson said. “His vision and leadership have been outstanding and WanakaSAR has never been in better shape. 

“He has raised the profile of SAR more than anybody.”

Upon receiving the award, Melchior said being part of the search and rescue team had “enriched my life beyond description”.

Melchior is leaving WanakaSAR in January when he moves to Auckland.

The award was given during a fundraiser cruise in Doubtful Sound which raised $40,000 for the organisation. Each year Real Journeys offers a ‘Cruise-for-a-Cause’, allowing community organisations to sell tickets to a cruise and keep the profits. The money will be used to upgrade search and rescue equipment.