Back to the beach
By GREG WHITE
A FEW quiet drinks enjoyed by friends and acquaintances from Coffs Harbour Junior Surf Life Saving Club sparked a bright idea - as drinks are prone to do - leading to the 40-year reunion organised for Easter Sunday at Park Beach.
Families and members who have been associated with the club since it was formed at a meeting hosted by publican and former Sydney Northern Beaches surf champion Alec Kennedy at the Fitzroy Hotel (now Coast Hotel) in 1968 have all been invited to roll up and organiser Phil Crofts said a huge number had already indicated their attendance this weekend.
"So much has changed over the years, like the terms Nippers and Mermaids no longer exist, and the club has had a lot of successful junior members," he said.
"But the one thing that's never changed is the target of teaching children to be surf knowledgeable, to be surf aware and surf confident.
"A child who achieves those aims is a winner in any language, no matter who wins the medals and prizes in competition at Branch, Country and State titles.
"The real success is kids going on to be lifesavers and there are many episodes of our kids saving lives, many outside patrol hours, a reward in itself."
During the day the clubhouse will be open for visitors with the bar open and a selection of light food served at the main function from 6pm onwards.
"Having kids involved brought a lot of parents into the movement for the first time and I'm glad to say many stayed on," Crofts said.
"You need administrators to lead from the front and to do the hard work on and off the beach.
"Some were home-grown, some were imports but all did a great job."
In the early days, Jim Gorman, Beryl Bracken, Don Smith and the Reeves crew - Maurie, Ray and Robyn - sowed the seeds for the future.
During the 1980s the batten was held by a band including Paul Mitchell, Peter Kitching, Ken Buckley and Bob and Carol Buchanan before being passed in more recent times to Kevin Gibson, Brian Brazier, Tony Mutkins and Mark Beavis. And through the decades, many have become club legends thanks in part to the strange 'alternate titles' they were given.
"Those at the reunion can discuss how 'The Grocer' (Michael Ryan), 'Duck Man' (Ken Small) and 'Harry Butler' (Bruce Fidge) managed to be given those nick-names," Crofts laughed.
Those seeking details on the celebrations should phone 6652 5525 for more details.