Thirroul SLSC has to be one of the most active and successful clubs in the Illawarra.
Boasting an incredible 560 members, the club runs regular summer patrols, training courses, competitive surf carnival teams, has numerous State and National representatives and they’re currently raising money to send a team of six teenage lifesavers to the Netherlands to compete at the World Lifesaving Championships.
And it’s all under the guiding hand of club president Jeff Body, who has just been elected for the fifth consecutive year.
“We are coming to the end of a massive refurbishment of the club facilities,” says Jeff, “which means we can better serve the local community.”
Jeff says for many years, the club has been fundraising in order to improve their clubhouse, and after five years of construction, they’re finished the majority of the work. “It’s looking fantastic! There will always be something we need or something that needs updating,” he says, “but we are happy with where we are now and what we can offer.
“We have had great help and financial support from the Thirroul/Austinmer Lions Club,”says Jeff, ” plus we have used the money we’ve been raising for many years. The Cancer Council and the Department of Sport and Recreation chipped in with grants and Wollongong Council supplied the roof on half of the building.”
The newly refurbished clubhouse has been specially designed for so safety equipment is easy to access, and there’s plenty of storage.
They also now have a conference room to conduct training courses, which they can also offer to other community groups.
“A lot of the work has been done by members,” says Jeff. “They’ve been incredibly supportive with tasks like painting, cleaning and fitting-out.”
“We are also incredibly thankful to the businesses in Thirroul. They’re so generous with donations for all our fundraising events.
Jeff says Thirroul is a real community club with members ranging in age from Nippers to octogenarians. “We have 70 patrolling members, but there are jobs for everyone
so you don’t have to be a great swimmer. Everyone has something to offer. We have older people who help us with business matters and training.
“Each year we send a team to the Macarthur Juvenile Justice Centre to teach the kids about water safety and first aid. Father Ken from St Michaels is a Patrol Captain and takes this important message to some kids who need a bit of help.”
So on top of successfully training lifesavers, educating people on water safety and patrolling one of the Illawarra’s busiest beaches, Thirroul SLSC enters successful teams in State and National Surf carnivals, and hosts two of the biggest events on the SLSC calendar.
“In early December, we host the Summer of Surf Qualifying round for FOX TV, and the 4th round of the Sydney Water Series, which brings some of the biggest names in surf lifesaving to the Northern Illawarra.
‘Thirroul’s Russell Gibson, Jeff Wall and Jasmin Yew are all Australian Champions,” says Jeff. “Then we have Emma Lockhart, Bridgette Lockhart and Daniel McGowan in the NSW IRB Team, which just won the Australian championships. Thirroul members Steven Robson and Andrew Turner were the team coaches.
“Our NSW State Champions include Anne Walton, Emma Lockart, Daniel McGowan, Kathy Foster, Bridgette Lockhart, Nadine Egan-Scott and Mikaela Ezzi. Our kids train hard and compete strongly.
“We have also started an ocean-swimming team which is competing into, five and 10 kilometre swims. “
But the club’s prime responsibility is to keep beachgoers safe. It’s big task for an organisation made up entirely of volunteers.
“Thirroul beach is getting busier and busier,” says Jeff.” People come down and sleep here Friday nights to get a good spot in the park, and that translates to more and more people using the beach. It’s vital we patrol the beach as best we can. We actually have a perfect record- nobody has ever drowned at Thirroul during patrol hours. Not bad when you consider the beach is more than 800 meters long!
“That’s not to say we haven’t done our fair share of rescues,” he says. “We have had a few close calls, but our patrol crews have managed to get the people out of the water safely.”
Thirroul Surf Lifesaving Club is holding an Open Day on September 11. You can read more about that HERE