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Sydney Branch Life Member and Coogee SLSC all-rounder, Doug Hawkins is the latest volunteer to be awarded Surf Life Saving NSW Life Membership following the organisation’s Annual General Meeting on 11 November.

Doug’s time in Surf Life Saving began at the turn of the century and has continued without pause and with purpose for 22 years.

He revolutionised the Nippers program at club level and across the state and has played a major role in the recruitment and retention of junior lifesavers during his time.

Indeed, a tangible outcome of his youth engagement program, the ‘Coogee Blueys’ –designed to build more defined connections and establish an identity for young people within the club – has seen Coogee’s patrol teams burgeon to the point that now two in every five patrolling members are under 18.

Doug is an active and passionate trainer, assessor and facilitator at club and branch level, and has held down a multitude of important roles including Youth Director, and Vice President of Coogee SLSC.

“In a sense of the SLSNSW values, we say we’re creating great Australians and building better communities,” he said.

“When your Nipper program is strong, then that’s exactly what you’re doing.

“I think that’s why it’s been such a big focus for me. More than 27,000 Nippers across the state, which is 40,000 parents – that’s an enormous number of people that we influence and share our values with.

“If even some of them walk away wanting to be a part of it, then we’ve done our job.

“Where else can we do something like that? Influencing young people in such a way, working with people from all different walks of life, using your own skills to make a difference.”

Like most, Doug doesn’t do what he does and wait for the recognition. That said, Life Membership of SLSNSW represents two decades of work that mattered.

“It means a lot. I think it’s a weird thing to say but to have the work recognised to me means the work has been positive and has made a difference, and that to me is the biggest win,” he said.

“To know things have been beneficial to people, that the work has been proactive and productive, it’s nice to sit back and see that.

“It’s not about the recognition, though. I come back for the people. To see the joy on the kids’ faces in Under 9s and they finally got out the back of the surf for the first time, and the joy on a new junior lifesaver’s face in their patrol uniform for the first time, or the Bronzies when they complete their course.

“There’s no other organisation like it.”

SLSNSW President, George Shales said Doug was a very deserving recipient of state Life Membership.

“The commitment and dedication displayed by Doug has been recognised by SLSNSW and the elevation to Life Member is in absolute acknowledgment of the impact he has made to this organisation and many young future lifesavers, families and the community,” he said.

Thursday 17 November 2022