Mornington Community Bay Rescue Service, (now operating as VMR Mornington, Volunteer Marine Rescue inc), was formed in May 1980 when a boating accident within site of land could not be attended due to the lack of a local ready action unit.
Local police stood helpless on the cliff top watching one of the occupants trying to reach shore.
By the time a boat had reached the overturned vessel the swimmer had drowned.
The incident sat heavily on the shoulders of the local police who decided not to let it happen again.
The name of the man who lost his life that day will be remembered, as the service named their first rescue craft “The Darbyshire”.
The tragic and unnecessary death of Paul Darbyshire prompted Senior Sergeant Peter Wilson, Sergeant Lou Allain and Sergeant Paul Hornbuckle to call a public meeting at the Mornington Racecourse of people with boating experience to discuss the formation of a ready reaction rescue unit.
This meeting highlighted the fact that the nearest water-based rescue unit was 8 kilometers away in either direction.
This distance was further compounded by the fact that neither Coast Guard unit had a boat physically in the water nor the call out system. In those days, this meant up to a 20 to 60 minute delay looking for a crew.
A Steering Committee was formed consisting of Ian Forde – President, Senior Sergeant Peter Wilson – Vice President, Councilor David Wheeler – Secretary, Mr Bill Milne – Treasurer, General Committee: Sergeant Paul Hornbuckle, Councilor Bill Jomartz, Sergeant Lou Allain, Mr Jack Ellis and Senior Constable John Crawley.
Their directive was to choose qualified members, acquire equipment, raise funds and promote public awareness.
A disused service station situated on the Esplanade Mornington and within a few hundred meters of boat launching facilities was made available rent free from BP Australia.
Our security of tenure was never very strong and when the property was put to auction and purchased by the Shire of Mornington (we being the losing bidder); we were told that out tenure was still very much in doubt.
A number of years had passed and the no fuss efficiency of the service was well recognized by the community, local police, water police and envied by our sister organizations.
The lack of a permanent home created much press.
Members of both political persuasions visited us to offer suggestions. We soon realized that we would need to go it alone.
Application was made and granted to lease a small portion of crown land at the rear of the new police complex.
The members had been putting in many hours fundraising and with assistance from local builders, suppliers and supporters; we built our new base without the need to borrow. Our tenure was now secure.