Coastguard is an organisation of volunteers who make a conscious choice to help others. This was never more clearly demonstrated than last Easter when Coastguard Radio Operator Johnny Clough received a desperate radio call from a son frantic to see his mother for the very last moments of her life.
The Unsworth family had headed off to Rangitoto to celebrate the Easter break and enjoy spending some quality time together at their family bach. The 65-year-old bach had seen many happy family times over the years and dad Chris, mum Nic and their two young children Levi and Summer were looking forward to enjoying all the peace and tranquillity that Rangitoto offers.
However shortly before 9pm on the night the Unsworth’s arrived, Chris received a phone call that no one ever wishes to hear. Chris’ mum had been experiencing breathing difficulties and was rushed to Auckland Hospital and was not expected to pull through. The family were asked to gather at her bedside.
Desperate attempts were made by Chris and Nic to contact water taxis, ferries and other commercial operators to get them back to the mainland in time to spend precious last moments with Chris’ Mum, but to no avail. Chris made a despairing call to Coastguard Radio’s Operator Johnny Clough whose heart went out to the Unsworth family. He contacted Skipper Alan of Lion Foundation Rescue, they were on Coastguard Duty at Islington Bay. Johnny relayed the situation to the Skipper, clarifying this was a goodwill incident asking if they could help. Without hesitation, Lion Foundation Rescue, Alan and his crew Sue, Karl and Blair had the Unsworth’s on-board enroute to the Marine Rescue Centre so they could get to Auckland Hospital to spend the precious last moments with Chris’ Mum.
Whilst underway the crew called through to have a taxi waiting for the Unsworth’s at the Marine Rescue Centre. Summer and Levi were kindly distracted by the crew who showed them the Auckland Harbour Bridge light show as they neared closer to the city. Chris, Nic, Levi and Summer made it in time – thanks to Coastguard volunteers. The family were able to spend the last moments of Nancy’s life and say their goodbyes to the mother and grandmother that they so dearly loved.
“It just meant so much to get back to Mum in time to say goodbye”. Chris Unsworth