Lifeguard Amanda Berry enjoys Christmas lunch on the job in front of the vandalised caravan.
Lifeguard Amanda Berry enjoys Christmas lunch on the job in front of the vandalised caravan.

Lifeguard van trashed by vandals

By MARY MANN mary.mann@northernstar.com.au THOUGHTLESS' vandals have struck near Lennox Head again, this time targeting important surf lifesaving equipment and resulting in a lifeguard being badly injured.

It was definitely not the Christmas present Northern NSW Lifeguard co-ordinator Stephen Leahy and local lifeguards had wanted.

When they turned up to work early on Christmas Day they found all the windows of their storage caravan at Sharps Beach, Skennars Head, had been smashed.

The vandals' work had left shards of glass throughout the safety equipment stored in the caravan, such as rescue boards.

"It was so badly damaged it had to be removed, which now leaves whoever is patrolling out there with no shelter," Mr Leahy said.

About 10.30am, one of the%lifeguards on duty went to the caravan to get his rescue board, but as he grabbed it a chunk of glass which was%embedded in it cut his hand.

"He needed the board so he could go out and get some surfers to move out of the flagged swimming area," Mr Leahy said. "We'd cleaned up the glass that morning, but had missed the piece imbedded in the board. It was a long cut, but luckily not too deep, so he didn't need stitches."

Mr Leahy treated the lifeguard's hand at the scene,%however, he was in no state to continue patrolling the beach, so another lifeguard was called in to take over.

Mr Leahy said the vandalism was a thoughtless act which had impacted on the community and the safety of the lifeguards.

"The storage caravan is provided free-of-charge by the Ballina Shire Council, and it is also used as a shelter for lifeguards on cold and rainy days," he said.

The council is looking at replacement options.

Amanda Berry, the lifeguard who was called in to keep the beach open after the rostered lifeguard was injured, said the vandalism was disappointing.

However, she did not let it ruin her Christmas. And she didn't miss out on her share of traditional Christmas dinner, either.

Amanda had a table, Christmas ornament, bon-bon and all the trimmings on the beach. "Lunch was almost ready when I got the call to go and fill in," the Lennox Head woman said.

"I would have waited until I'd finished patrolling, but it was nice of them to bring it."

The vandalism comes just two months after vandals put beach-goers at risk when they cut a cable on the Coastalwatch safety camera at Ballina's Lighthouse Beach.

It was the third time this year the camera had been%targeted by vandals.



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