August 1 - 7, 2021: Issue 504


Avalon Beach SLSC 2021 AGM: A New President & Life Member

Avalon Beach SLSC, Winter 2021 - taken from North Avalon. A J Guesdon photo.

Avalon Beach SLSC conducted their annual AGM on Sunday July 25th, 2021, following the release of their Annual Report.

Avalon Beach SLSC President Ashley Cardiff stepped down having done a great job during 3 years of ups and downs the ups included the 50th IRB Celebrations in 2019, but in the past year there have been numerous cancellations and postponements of club patrolling activities and community events due to Covid restrictions, and a curtailed patrol season and competition created challenges for maintaining Club spirit, retaining and training patrolling members. The most important outcome was that no lives were lost during patrol hours.

Ash has a long history in community service, attaining his Bronze Medallion at Dee Why SLSC back in 1985 followed by Advanced Resus and IRB Driver awards to become a Patrol Captain and Long Service Member at Dee Why.   After some time out of the surf life saving movement, Ash became involved again when his kids signed up for Nippers.  

Ash transferred to Avalon Beach SLSC for the 2014/15 season and as a former surf boat rowing State and National gold medal holder, Ash jumped back into the sport, rowing in the Reserves and Masters division and winning Silver at the NSW and State Championships in 2019/20 and Gold at the Branch Championships last season.

Ash took over from former Club President Richard Cole just as Avalon Beach SLSC was announced Surf Life Saving Australia’s Club of the Year.   During his three-year tenure, Ash has presided over  three patrol seasons  during which time our patrol teams have carried out just under 20,000hrs of voluntary beach patrols, our trainers have instructed  454 surf life saving skills awards, and only Ash knows how many hours he’s spent in or around surfboats either training, racing or mentoring our younger crews.  We do know it's substantial.

Ash C. 

Thank you Ashley for your leadership during some of the most externally challenging times in our Club’s history and for continuing on the Club's Board of Management in your new capacity as Director of Surf Sports.

Despite all the difficulties Ash leaves the Club in an amazingly strong position for incoming President Bernadette McKay, with patrolling members and new trainees numbers up and a substantial financial surplus, primarily the result of some generous donations, sponsorships, and Covid related surf life saving grants from State and Federal governments and Council, and expenditure control, offsetting lost revenue from hall hire, discounted membership fees etc.

Bernie has in fact been part of the Club's Board of Management for the past 7 years as Director of Finance and Deputy President, and is also a Patrolling Member, so she has an excellent understanding of the Club, and thanked and congratulated Ash on behalf of members for his leadership particularly over the past year of navigating through Covid challenges.

Looking ahead, she said:

"World Drowning Prevention Day (July 25) is a poignant reminder as to what our core service is, which is to protect our beach, keep people safe and when called upon to save lives. Our spending initiatives have always prioritised patrol equipment and training over all else and we will continue to do.

This season gives us an opportunity to reset our strategic plan for the next 5-10 years which will include our 100 year club anniversary in 2025, reflecting on what we have done well, what our ambitions are, how we see ourselves and where we want to be. We are very much a community club and this is evidenced by Nathan Wellings being recognised as a Life Member through his and wife Mel's 24 hour row mental health initiative. I want all members, past, present and future to be proud and to have a place to belong."

Nathan Wellings, voted Life Member at this year's AGM.

Nathan Wellings initial involvement with the Avalon Beach Surf Life Saving Club was as a Nipper, and he has spent almost 70% of his life associated with the Club. 

He has been a distinguished, conspicuous and sustained volunteer member for more than 26 years. He gained his Bronze Medallion in January 1995 and has gained 44 awards including the Silver Medallion, IRB driver and 25-year Long Service Award.

Nathan has contributed to all aspects of the Club; Competition, Patrols and Administration, and has patrolled in excess of 700 hours during his time as a senior Club member.

In 2007 he received the President’s Award and in 2014 was the “Max Watt” club competitor of the year and also the Chris “Detho” Dethick boatie of the year. He has represented the club in beach and rescue events at State and National levels, IRB racing and most predominately in surf boat competition. Nathan has won numerous medals at World, Australian, State, Branch and ARSL levels. 

In season 2017/2018 hr represented Australia in the Trans-Tasman test, Nathan has been instrumental in building our successful surf boat team, which has led to our not only high retention rate among our junior members, but a strong spirit that has permeated throughout the Club.

Nathan was Club Captain for four years between 2007/2008 season and 2009/2010 season. He took over the position again in season 2014/2015 after Steve Parkes had his accident completing another full season. He has held positions on the Board of Management in this capacity and has also been on the Life Membership and Building Committees. 

Nathan is the licensee for the Club’s liquor license and ran the bar through the initial years after the club was rebuilt. As a licensed tradesman he helps with maintenance and various building projects around the clubhouse. Nathan is a current member of the club’s emergency call-out team.

In 2018, Nathan and his wife founded and organised the first 24-hour row to raise money for local mental health organisations. This has grown exponentially each year since to now be a nation-wide event that raises hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Nathan’s outstanding, distinguished and conspicuous services qualifies him for elevation to Life Membership of Avalon Beach Surf Life Saving Club.

Nathan and Mel Wellings July 18th, 2020 - when getting ready for the 3rd Annual 24 Hour Row for Mental Health. A J Guesdon photo.

Robert Hopton was awarded 20 Years Long Service and a Distinguished Service Award at this year's AGM.

Robert Hopton gained the Bronze Medallion in January 2001 and has been an outstanding and conspicuous Club member from that time, involving himself in all aspects of the Club, viz. Patrols, Competition and Administration.

Robert has twice been winner of the President’s award in 2013 and 2021 and in 2007 joint winner of the Norman Cook award for the Most Outstanding Member of the Year.

He has gained many Association awards, and is a qualified IRB driver. He has helped fill the Club’s quota of IRB drivers, allowing the Club to compete at the last three State Championships and other carnivals. Now a Long Service member he is a “go to” member for those seeking a patrol substitute.

In October 2010 he was part of the group awarded “Rescue of the Month “by Surf Life Saving New South Wales for their actions in assisting a man who had fallen on the southern headland of the beach.

Robert has been a member and heads the Building Committee formed in 2005/2006 season when the new premises was only an idea and has been a member of that committee for 15 years. This required him being involved in all negotiations with Council, builders and trades involved in the construction of the current clubhouse.

As one of the two architects for the current clubhouse, he was involved in applying for grants and negotiating with sponsors which saved the club and Council significant funds in the project. 

He currently co-ordinates repairs and any maintenance required for the building often physically assisting with the task.

Over the period of the pandemic Robert has been the Club Covid Marshall, requiring him to attend the Club twice on weekends and at any other events making sure the Club is Covid compliant.

Robert is involved in organising and conducting other Club events such as the Avalon Beach Swim and the Lion Island Challenge.

Robert is one of those members who assist whatever the Club event is, or just something needed to be done around the Club.

Thank you for your service Rob!

Christine and Robert Hopton at Pacific Club's Carnival Rio fundraiser for Palm Beach SLSC, 2016. The Hoptons have attended many other surf club fundraisers, their daughters are also active in supporting and volunteering for community projects and organisations as well.

Others acknowledged at this year's AGM for their decades of service to our community and all visitors include:

The AGM was held virtually in the current Covid Lockdown, a first for the Club, with an excellent rollup of members and guests joining in online.

Speakers to the Annual Report presented at the AGM Included The Hon Rob Stokes MP for Pittwater, Michael Regan Northern Beaches Council Mayor, the Hon Bronwyn Bishop AO Club Patron, John Brogden Club Patron, Steven Pearce CEO Surf Life Saving NSW, Clr Ian White NBC, Louis Tassone Dir Surf Sports SLS Sydney Northern Beaches.  All expressed their congratulations on the Club's outstanding results and its members' spirit.

If you'd like to undertake your Bronze Medallion and join our amazing surf club family, our next course starts in October.  Register your interest here

Download the Avalon Beach SLSC 96th Annual Report 2020-21 and find out more at:

Report by Roger Sayers OAM, Life Member ABSLSC and Avalon Beach SLSC

Terry Barber ABSLSC Director of Surf Sports reports: Avalon Beach IRB Team at Warilla-Barrick Point for 2021 Round 3 of the NSW Premiership. The team made 7 Finals of the 13 events contested, bagging a couple of Golds. Thanks to Melinda Akehurst and Steve Broderick for being our officials for the weekend. ABSLSC photo.