Sawtell remembers 'one of their own'

THE surf life saving, swimming, police and wider Sawtell community have paid tribute to one of their own, Phil Standen, during a remembrance ceremony on Saturday.

The larger-than-life figure was celebrated as a bear of a man and an unlikely sports-man with a zest for life during the service on Sawtell's main beach.

Born in Bondi Phil was a detective when he was transferred from Bathurst to the Coffs Harbour Police Station in 1969. He made his home in Sawtell and quickly became involved in the surf club as a keen competitor, mentor and life saver.

While he was a very successful R & R competitor, swimmer and board and ski paddler Phil's forte was as a surf boat sweep. His 115 kilogram frame cut a formidable figure at the helm of many champion boat crews.

With his trademark pipe in hand, huge bulk, lumbering gait and booming voice he also couldn't be ignored by anyone daring to swim outside the flags.

Before being transferred back to the Sydney CID, Phil had become club captain and captivated by life on the coast.

It wasn't long before he returned to Sawtell with the aim of establishing a learn-to-swim school. Phil helped form a committee which raised the money to build the Sawtell Swimming Pool which he later managed.

He taught thousands of children and adults to swim, both at the Sawtell Pool and later through his private swimming centre at Toormina. His rapport with youngsters and his love of sport shone through as he coached scores of local swimmers to success at country, State and national swimming and surf life saving titles.

Phil will also be remembered as a member of the Department of Social Services' Mobile Review Team which covered northern New South Wales in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

His colleagues remember him as a born entertainer, gifted pianist and raconteur who brought many a country pub to life. He was also a wardsman at Baringa Private Hospital

In 2000, Phil married Sue and 18 months ago he sold his swim school and moved to Bargara near Bundaberg to be closer to his daughter, Sharon, and her family. His son, Wayne, and his family now live in Sydney

Sadly he lost his battle with an aggressive brain tumour on December 4 and was buried at Bundaberg. He was 67.

Phil's life was celebrated on Saturday by family and friends from all walks of life.

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