From a wide-eyed Nipper at the tender age of nine through to becoming a respected leader of her club, Shannon Fox epitomises the give a little, change a lot ethos of National Volunteer Week.
The Wollongong City Lifesaver is both a young woman on the rise, and a passionate advocate of water safety.
In fact she made club history in 2015 when she became the first woman ever elected to be club captain, a position she continued to enjoy in the season just gone.
Her elevation to the coveted role finally smashed down the barriers established over a century, and it proved to be an extremely shrewd and beneficial decision for the club.
In Fox, Wollongong City has a seriously talented leader who, despite her tender years, has an ability to communicate to a wide variety of audiences, and also a genuine desire to help people.
This attitude comes across when she was asked to describe what volunteering means to her.
“Volunteering to me is about helping others. It is being a part of something bigger than you. The sense of satisfaction felt after helping others is something I value highly and couldn’t recommend enough.
“Our community needs volunteers for so many reasons; it builds a better sense of belonging in people, creates great social networks with like-minded people, it provides a pathway for people to give back while also helping to make a difference in a world which needs our help,” she said.
She cites one memory of patrol this summer that highlights what volunteering in surf lifesaving is all about.
“On this day there was a wicked change of tide, and our beach was nearly the fullest it’s ever been in terms of the crowd size.
There was a sand bar, but to get there you had to cross a bit of a gutter and people were underestimating how strong the water was pulling,” Fox said.
“My newest and youngest crew driver on my patrol and I went for a roving patrol in the IRB, it was a beautiful day and even better on the water. We were doing laps across the back of the waves knowing that we had already made several rescues that day, moved the flags and made the beach as safe as we could
“Out the back we saw two men in difficulty and were able to rescue them, and gently explain the dangers of our beach. After that I was able to look across the beach and see the other patrol members being vigilant, performing preventative actions and ensuring the safety of all visitors.
“I looked at my crewperson and told her what a difference she had made today, and I was so proud of my team and my club. In a moment of reflection, I realised this is what it’s all about,” she said.
Fox certainly has experience volunteering heavily across the movement.
Since becoming eligible for patrol she has spent more than 600 hours on active duty and hundreds more in other areas.
She is part of the club call out team, assists in education and training, a particular passion of hers, and is always up for assisting in any way she can.
This leadership has extended further than just her club and region.
In recent years she has been a part of the Beach to Bush tour delivering safety messages to schools across Regional NSW, and continues to be a mentor to the next generation of lifesavers acting as a facilitator at the Junior Lifesaver of the Year development programs.
From May 21-27, SLSNSW will be celebrating the achievements of our wonderfully dedicated volunteers as part of National Volunteer Week. To find out more about this annual celebration of the unsung heroes of Australia, please click here
Tuesday 22 May 2018