Brave sea rescuer a local hero

2015-07-14 06:00
Robin Fortuin (24) is a finalist in this year’s Centrum Guardians campaign for his role in saving the lives of six people caught in a rip current at Monwabisi Beach.

Robin Fortuin (24) is a finalist in this year’s Centrum Guardians campaign for his role in saving the lives of six people caught in a rip current at Monwabisi Beach.

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At just 24 years old, a brave life saver has been recognised for saving the lives of six people – and changing his own life in doing so.

Robin Fortuin, a volunteer rescue swimmer for the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), is a finalist in this year’s Centrum Guardians campaign. He is the only nominee from the Western Cape.

Fortuin was selected for saving six people from drowning in a rip current at Monwabisi Beach when he was 21 years old.

Fortuin joined the life savers in 2006 at the age of 15 and became an NSRI volunteer at 17. He currently works as a rescue lifeguard for Hilton Hotel in Abu Dhabi.

His life ambition is to work on the water as a full-time rescue swimmer.

His aspirations started when he sat and watched the NSRI crew training.

This spurred his decision to apply to join Strandfontein station. After joining the team he soon realised that sea rescue was his calling and has given him purpose in life.

The motivation for his nomination states: “Against all odds, the then 21-year-old saved six people from drowning in the treacherous rip currents at Monwabisi Beach.”

NSRI station commander Mario Fredericks says that Fortuin contacted him later that aweful night to talk about what had happened.

Despite saving the lives of six people that day, Fortuin was devastated that he could not save the seventh casualty.

He kept asking himself: “What could I have done differently? What if I didn’t take those few seconds to catch my breath and gather my strength?”

Fredericks realised that this young man’s life had been changed forever. The enormity of what he had singlehandedly accomplished was too much for him to comprehend at that time.

On that day, Fortuin was an instrumental part of something infinitely larger than himself. He gave everything that he had, to give seven people another chance at life.

Fredericks comments that Fortuin’s perspective on life has changed. “I believe that his appreciation for this gift of life reaches levels of understanding that few people will comprehend in their lifetime.”

Although not nominated senior coxswain Vaughn and the NSRI Strandfontein volunteer crew also played a role in the rescue.

The Centrum Guardians award is an initiative that showcases our nation’s multidisciplinary and high-calibre emergency and rescue services.

“These amazing true-life rescue stories highlight the fact that rescue personnel devote their strength, stamina and energy to saving lives,” comments Natasha Macdonald, Centrum brand manager.


To vote for Fortuin and for more information visit

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