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Di Garder travels 70km to patrol at Era SLSC with her daughters and granddaughters. Three generations of women volunteering together. We spoke to Di as part of our National Volunteer Week series.

Di, from Era SLSC is 74 years old. Era is one of three surf clubs in the Royal National park and is one of the smallest in the state. 

How long have you been member at Era SLSC?

My family has been part of the club since the 1950s. My parents brought a shack in 1953 when you could still buy and sell property there. In the '70s I was on the social committee. I got as involved with the club as I could in the time before women could complete their Bronze Medallion. When my kids were old enough to get involved I did my Radio Operators Certificate and remain active on patrols as an Award member. 

What is the most important thing to you about being involved with surf lifesaving?

It's so important to learn about the ocean and surf education for everyone. It gives you confidence to know what is happening when you get to the beach and allows you to make smart decisions and pass on what you know to others. 

You're contributing as a volunteer and giving back to the community. I've said to my kids and now grandkids who are all active members, that it's a good thing to be seen contributing to the community. What better way to spend the weekend, with your family on the beach. 

What has been the most significant change you've seen in the movement since you started? 

Seeing women involved at every level of the organisation, they are now integral. In the 1970s and '80s there just weren't enough men coming into the organisation to keep patrols going. I remember in 1978 we had a meeting at Era to decide whether we should close the club down due to lack of numbers. Then, in 1980 when women could complete their Bronze Medallion there was a huge resurgence with the participation of Mums and kids. 

Now our small club boasts a large proportion of active female lifesavers as well as Associate members. We recently inducted our first two female Life Members. 


Friday 24 May 2018