Despite receiving a call from the President of Surf Life Saving Australia to say he had been bestowed one of the highest volunteer honours in the organisation, Life Membership, Col Laing was up early and on the beach today to compete in the 2020 NSW Masters Championships at Swansea Belmont SLSC.
Col Laing has been a member of Surf Life Saving since 1958 and has been actively involved in so many areas of lifesaving. In 2019 he became one of very few people in Surf Life Saving history to achieve 60 continuous years of patrols.
He joined Surf Life Saving in 1958 and was originally a junior boat rower and R&R competitor at The Entrance SLSC. He later went on to be the Foundation President of the North Entrance SLSC in 1976.
“We feel like a statue needs to be erected at North Entrance to Col,” said team mate Steve Allan.
“He’s the most competitive guy we’ve ever met and he has a husband/wife relationship with John Dring, his double ski partner.
“He does have a habit of exaggerating though – if it was three foot, he might say it was 15 foot. But he’s like a father figure to all of us.
“The Entrance was a really famous club back in the day, with two-time Australian ski champion Chris Bond and others and Col was really heavily involved in that whole period. He’s fearless, he’s inspirational and his Life Membership is so well deserved,” said Steve Allan.
Along the way to achieving success at every level of competition and coaching so many athletes along the way, Col has undergone three hip replacements, had an arterial stent inserted to ward off a heart condition and almost died after a golden staph infection took hold and could not be controlled.
But on the beach at the 2020 NSW Championships, Col was just happy competing with his team mates, picking up a gold and silver medal in the 75+ Board and Ski races between slaps on the back and congratulations from everyone on his life membership honour.
“It’s a big privilege and an honour, I didn’t expect it and I was surprised when I got the call from the SLSA President,” said Col.
Col’s commitment to supporting and developing volunteers within Surf Life Saving has been outstanding and both The Entrance and North Entrance SLSCs and the community as a whole have benefitted from his efforts for decades.
“We started the club at North Entrance because there had been lots of rescues and a few drownings there and we thought we had enough members to start the new club and here we are 40 year later.
“All my three children have been involved and have been champions and now their children are in the movement too. Aside from being made a Life Member, winning the Ski Relay with my nephew Peter at the Aussies was probably one of the proudest moments in my time in Surf Life Saving,” said Col.
SLSA Life Membership is given to members who go above and beyond in their duties and responsibilities in Surf Life Saving and who have shown distinguished voluntary service to the movement over a sustained period.
Wednesday 4 March 2020