May 16th – 22nd is National Volunteer Week, and PaddleNSW is excited to celebrate a range of volunteers from across our paddling community. These are the people that go above and beyond, yet often behind the scenes, to ensure the smooth running of events, the beauty of our waterways and the continuity of our clubs. If there’s a volunteer you’d like to see featured, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alan Fitzgerald, aka ‘Mr Fixit’, Sydney Norther Beaches Kayak Club
When Alan’s daughter Nina started padding with SNBKC a few years ago, it soon became apparent that he was a pretty handy bloke to have around the shed. Alan’s skills first came to light at Nina’s first Nationals in Perth a few years ago. When the SNBKC tents blew down overnight, he was able to completely rebuild the frames and resurrect the shelters.
Then Alan started repairing boats and fixing things around the shed. We soon realised he could fix just about anything. He rebuilt the boat trailers and designed and built a number of spare parts for our Nelo boats saving the club a small fortune in spare parts replacement.
He then turned his hand to designing other things to make it easier for the club members, modifications to the tinny, a set of boat scales so all boats could be correct weight before regattas, some new double boat washing racks so we could have maximum number of boats being washed at the same time, some high storage racks for the K4s and lifters to make storing the K4’s much easier. He commandeered his wife, Geraldine’s sewing machine to make covers for the boat racks.
When the floods hit Narrabeen earlier this year, our tinny pontoon floated up and over its moorings and was headed out into the middle of the lake, 3 tinnies attached. Alan, along with Geraldine and other members, the Lovetts, braved the floodwaters to paddle out and rescue the pontoon and tinnies. Always wearing his Crocs, nothing is too much trouble for Alan and no problem is too complex for him to find a great solution.
And he recently repaired our tents again for the upcoming national championships.
SNBKC is so much better for having Alan and the Fitzgeralds around!