Wauchope-Bonny Hills and Port Macquarie Surf Club to row for 24-hours to raise funds for Gotcha4Life

Lasting legacy: Wauchope-Bonny Hills and Port Macquarie surf clubs will row for 24-hours on August 22 and 23 to remember the lives of people affected by mental illness. Photo: Phil Kaufmann
Lasting legacy: Wauchope-Bonny Hills and Port Macquarie surf clubs will row for 24-hours on August 22 and 23 to remember the lives of people affected by mental illness. Photo: Phil Kaufmann

DEALING with significant loss is something Wauchope-Bonny Hills Surf Life Saving Club has become all too familiar with in recent years.

It's part of the reason why club members - along with those from Port Macquarie Surf Life Saving Club - will row for 24-hours to raise awareness and funds for Gotcha4Life on August 22 and 23.

In Australia, one in five people will experience a mental illness in any year and 45 percent of people will experience some form of mental health issue in their lifetime.

Suicide is the leading cause of death for people aged 15-44 and Wauchope-Bonny Hills' president Ian Latham said the row would provide an opportunity to reflect.

"We all experience things; it doesn't matter if it's grief, loss, death or separation, we all deal with life experiences in different ways," he said.

"(As surf life savers) we're not always the person figuratively swimming out to rescue someone else, we've got to look after ourselves as well.

We're not always the person figuratively swimming out to rescue someone else, we've got to look after ourselves as well.

Wauchope-Bonny Hills surf club president Ian Latham
Challenge accepted: Rowers from Wauchope-Bonny Hills and Port Macquarie surf clubs will take part in a 24-hour challenge to raise awareness for mental health. Photo: Phil Kaufmann

Challenge accepted: Rowers from Wauchope-Bonny Hills and Port Macquarie surf clubs will take part in a 24-hour challenge to raise awareness for mental health. Photo: Phil Kaufmann

"It's important we communicate with each other and are comfortable reaching out to others."

The club continues to grieve the loss of Ged Roods earlier this year which came on the back of numerous others in a short period of time.

It seemed to be one wave after another.

"At the beginning of last year we celebrated Graeme Buckley's life and then put up a surf lifesaver silhouette which paid respects to Simon Stennett and all lifesavers that have been through the club," Latham said.

Latham said the row would give club members the chance to come together within COVID-19 health restrictions.

"We can make a contribution into the future to establish mental health services and we see this as the beginning of a process to support each other," he said.

Port Macquarie surf club president Rick Rolff said they hoped to have up to 50 rowers participating on the day.

I've had some experiences in my family where as a teenager having a mental health issue was seen as a sign of weakness, but it's an illness.

Port Macquarie surf club president Rick Rolff

"We hope to have two machines set up in the hall and we'll get people if they can't go the whole hour by themselves to try and do it as a couple," he said.

Rolff admitted he had been touched by mental health illness indirectly over the years.

"There has been a few cases of it around our club so it was something we thought we could pitch in and help with," he said.

"I've had some experiences in my family where as a teenager having a mental health issue was seen as a sign of weakness, but it's an illness.

"It's more out in the open now than it was back then; the pressure of society sometimes drives people to do tragic things."

What else is happening in sport?

Thank you for valuing local journalism with your subscription. While you're with us, you can also receive updates straight to your inbox from the Port Macquarie News. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, sign up here.