Commander Tony Barker of Caloundra Coast Guard flotilla at Memorial Wall
Commander Tony Barker of Caloundra Coast Guard flotilla at Memorial Wall

New Memorial Wall for Caloundra?

EIGHT years ago the Caloundra Volunteer Coast Guard flotilla introduced its Memorial Wall on Caloundra Headland. The idea was to create a peaceful nook above the ocean where people who have scattered the ashes of their loved ones could remember them with commemorative plaques.

The concept has now become an important and popular community service and Coast Guard fundraiser so much so Caloundra is now looking at options to build another Wall.

Mooloolaba, Tin Can Bay, Sandy Straits and Noosa flotillas also have Walls and to give some idea of popularity the one at Noosa at Munna Point is barely a year old and already more than 100 people have bought plaques.

At $1200 a time the fundraising impact is considerable and Noosa’s Commander Alan Hall says the response from the public has been "overwhelming, wonderful.

"The money is going towards the replacement and refurbishment of our two rescue vessels, both of which are due in five years. Cost of both is an estimated $1.5 million."

For the cash-strapped flotillas in the Sunshine Coast squadron, it’s a lifesaver.

Andris Zalite is Coast Squadron Commodore and he says it costs an average $200,000 a year to run each flotilla. "We’re all volunteers and we only get 15 per cent of what we need from the Government. We have to raise the rest of the money ourselves with sausage sizzles, raffles, sponsorships and the like.

"We also have to refit or replace vessels every ten years and just one boat can cost up to $1 million. The government grant for this is $100,000 for the first vessel and $40000 if there is a second boat. The grant money hasn’t gone up for years."

Commander of the Caloundra flotilla Tony Barker says funds from the Wall have to date been a major contributor to buying $800,000 worth of boats, $150,000 for pontoons, $60000 for hydraulic floats to stow the boats as well as flotilla running costs and refurbishment of the headquarters building.

"We now have to set our mind to substantial incomings because in 10 years’ time we will have to do it all again.

"Available space on the Wall is running out and we are now considering options to expand the facility. One of these is finding a property for a new Wall."

Like other flotillas, Caloundra provides an ashes scattering service for $300 which isn’t conditional on buying a plaque.

Commander Barker says this "generates a lot of goodwill with the public. We wear dress uniforms and we perform the ocean ceremony as close as we can to Caloundra Headland.

"We co-ordinate everything by two way radio so the funeral party get the possible view. We also provide a certificate with the date and name of the person and the latitude and longitude of the location.

"It’s a beautiful time of contemplation for the family."

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