Foxton Beach Surf Life Saving club struggling for volunteers

A Surf Life Saving club north of Wellington is having to rely on staff from across the region to keep its beach patrolled.

Foxton Surf Club's had a busy summer so far but only has about a third of the lifeguards it needs to keep swimmers safe.

Even on an overcast day Foxton Beach still draws a crowd. The popular swimming spot can be dangerous and its volunteer lifeguards are vital but few.

"Foxton's got a problem with a small community and we haven't seen a lot of volunteers come to the club for a number of years," says Foxton SLSC president Curly Evans.

It puts the volunteers it does have under pressure.

"I've been out on patrol every weekend since we started, on December 2, just because we haven't got the lifeguard numbers," says Foxton SLSC vice captain Kim O'Leary.

Lifeguards performed five rescues on that first day, and the beach has been packed ever since.

To avoid staff burnout it's called in reinforcements from other Capital Coast clubs, like Wellington's Lyall Bay.

"All the clubs are willing to step in and give a helping hand," says Lyall Bay SLSC patrol captain Amy McMillan.

It's the second year it's relied on support from other clubs.

While nationwide Surf Life Saving membership is rising year-on-year, the shortage in Foxton comes down to its isolation.

Ms McMillan says working at Foxton Beach is a good learning curve for her team.

"Conditions are quite challenging compared to what we see at Lyall Bay."

But it's a challenge they enjoy. That fraternity and willingness to help is something the Foxton club hopes will draw new recruits to join.