Ballina may have more surf patrols


'TOO Little, but not too late' is Margaret Hicks' verdict on a recommendation for more surf patrols on the Ballina beach that claimed her son.

Yesterday an audit of six Ballina beaches, commissioned by Ballina Shire Council, recommended full-time patrols for seven months of the year on Shelly Beach and Lennox Head's Seven Mile Beach.

"Seven months down, and five to go," said Mrs Hicks.

"We need patrols all-yearround. It is supposed to be winter today, but it's warm."

Matthew Hicks, 18, drowned on unpatrolled Shelly Beach last September while swimming between where the flags would have been positioned.

"It's not too late to save someone else's child," said his mother.

The report by Surf Life Saving Australia was prompted by Cr Margaret Howes in response to the Goonellabah youth's death.

In March Dutch pair Catharina Ilgen and her brother, Peter Kirkwood, drowned on an unpatrolled Seven Mile Beach.

Currently, Ballina Shire Council provides Christmas and April holiday patrols.

n How safe is your beach? See tomorrow's Northern Star for a scientific rating of Ballina beaches and recommendations for surf patrols.

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