The youngest of the four shortlisted for this year’s Coastguard Young Volunteer Award was chosen as the winner by Kiwis across the country who cast their vote online.
On 25 May, 21-year-old Coastguard Mana volunteer Kate Stewart was announced as the winner for this year’s award. Kate’s Coastguard journey started when she joined the local Mana unit at the age of 16.
Today, she is a senior crew member and a Coastguard instructor. Back in 2015, she was invited to a training session by one of her mother’s colleagues and Kate enjoyed it so much that she decided to join. In these years as a volunteer, Kate says she has developed a passion for helping people.
“I’ve learnt that I am capable of a lot more than I thought. For example, I never thought I would become a Coastguard Instructor. I have learnt I am good at problem-solving, working in a team, being adaptable and staying calm under pressure.”
Not only does Kate attend most callouts and training sessions with her crew but she is also a lifeguard and a student. Her five years volunteering for Coastguard ignited her passion for helping others and encouraged her to pursue a career as a paramedic.
“When I first joined Coastguard, I was a bit quiet. There’s a bit if a joke that I never spoke on the boat. I’m now confident to run training sessions and be second in charge – something I never thought I would be doing. That confidence has helped me with my paramedic training and being a lifeguard. My life would be very different if I hadn’t been invited to join Coastguard.”
Describing her as a deserving winner, Coastguard New Zealand CEO Callum Gillespie, said, “What sets Kate apart from her peers is her eagerness to learn, confidence to teach others, and above all else, her dedication to helping people in their time of need.”
Kate’s nominator and Coastguard Mana president Carl Nixon describes her as “a Coastguard volunteer of the future.”
“Her maturity and professional approach to volunteering makes her an inspiration to all at Coastguard.”
In recognition of Kate’s achievements, she has been given the opportunity to attend a 21-day Outward Bound course that will further develop her leadership and build on the skillset she has gained in the past five years.
Each year, Coastguard recognises its young volunteers through this award by selecting four nominees from around the country who demonstrated commitment and active engagement in volunteering for the charity.