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As flags went down across NSW beaches this week, marking the end of the patrolling season, the final days held perhaps a little more meaning at Cooks Hill SLSC in the Hunter after the announcement that the revered ‘Patrol 3’ would be ‘retiring’ from active duty.

With 431 years of combined service between them, the patrol of Robert Young, Shane Joyce, Stephen Davies, Bruce Pinnock, Wayne Moylan, Scott Bear, Peter McNally, Robert Silkman, Greg Pawley, Gregory Silcock and Bill Mainey has played an essential role in keeping swimmers, surfers, and beachgoers safe along the Newcastle coastline.

Their ‘retirement’ marks the end of an era at Cooks Hill.

“This is a group of guys that have averaged more than 40 years of patrol between each of them,” Cooks Hill SLSC President, Michael Clancy said.

They’re not going anywhere, still remaining members of the club, a significant number are Life Members so will continue doing things around the club.”

Indeed, seven of the men are Life Members and have been involved in Nippers and junior development, guiding the next generation.

Even in their active patrolling retirement, they will continue to play a role at the club.

“The core group have been patrolling and competing together in boat crews for four decades or more,” Michael continued.

“They’re integral members of the club and there’s a definite role in terms of mentoring that they will play.

“We are lucky to have a very large patrolling group, maybe 260 or so, with fairly large patrol teams within that, and many are rookies.

“These guys will play a big part there.”

While their experience will be missed on the beach, the group is an embodiment of everything that the surf club and the greater Surf Life Saving movement represents.

“I think they’re a really good example of how volunteering cascades outside the immediate organisation, this group is active within the community and will continue to be,” Michael said.

“They’re an essential aspect of the club. When you look at it, you’ve got people with skills and experiences that are invaluable in guiding the club to maintain its members, train its members in lifesaving and volunteerism, and make sure that everyone has a place.”

Friday 28 April 2023