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Kate Broadhurst has been leading inclusive programs at Avoca Surf Life Saving Club on the NSW Central Coast. She is one of our inspirational members we're profiling this week as part of National Volunteer Week 2020.

How long have you been involved with Surf Life Saving, and what club are you currently a member of? 

I have been involved in Surf Life Saving for 29 years. I joined the nippers at North Entrance Surf Life Saving Club when I was 11 years old. I am currently a member at both Avoca Beach SLSC and North Entrance SLSC. I have been competing for Avoca SLSC now for 15 years and have more recently become involved at North Entrance SLSC again, which is where I patrol and my kids do nippers.

What was it that triggered you to join a club? Was it a defining moment and reason? 

When I was young I loved going to swimming club at the local ocean baths but hadn't really done any formal training. At the time, my dad was a maths teacher who often tutored students after school. One of the students he was tutoring had parents who ran the nearby pool and suggested I come and join the squad. Luckily for me, this person was a legend of the sport. Brian Hutchings coached, mentored and supported me from the very beginning. He was still competing in Masters competition for North Entrance SLSC at the time and encouraged me to join.

Have you performed or been part of a rescue? No matter big or small why was it significant for you, describe it. 

I've done lots of rescues over the years both on patrol and working as a council lifeguard. The common link between most of them is that the person being rescued didn't realise how quickly things could go wrong. 

What's one of the most inspirational or memorable things that you've witnessed either within your club or on patrol? 

One inspirational thing that comes to mind is Col Laing (North Entrance SLSC) being awarded life membership of SLSA recently after 60 continuous years of patrolling. Col coached us at North Entrance when I was in nippers and is still actively involved with the nippers there today with my kids. The kids think he is a total rockstar (and he is!). He personifies the spirit of volunteerism in Surf Life Saving and the whole club was so excited to see his dedication recognised.

Why is volunteering as a surf lifesaver important to you? Why do you continue to do it?

Volunteering as a surf lifesaver is important to me for a number of reasons. It's a great community to be part of and I enjoy being able to contribute to my clubs, especially now that my children are involved. I'm fortunate enough to be still competing in surf sports, but volunteering in different capacities will allow me to stay involved with the movement once I retire from competition. 

Why do you think surf sports is such an important part of Surf Life Saving?

Surf Sports is such an important part of Surf Life Saving as it teaches people the skills required to enjoy the ocean safely, as well as patrol their local beaches and give something back to their own community. As a sport, it teaches young competitors invaluable life lessons and develops determination, perseverance and resilience through its unpredictable and sometimes unfair nature.

Tell us about your involvement in inclusive programs in Surf Life Saving

In 2015, I was taking a break from competing after the birth of our second son. I still wanted to be involved in the surf club and was thinking about how I wanted to make a contribution. Our eldest son has a vision impairment and had just started tiny-tots nippers at North Entrance SLSC. With my background in surf lifesaving and a degree in Occupational Therapy, I felt pretty confident that I would be able to support him to participate in nippers by modifying activities to make it more accessible for him. I realised that this might not be the case for all families of children with additional needs, so I started an Inclusive Nipper Program at Avoca SLSC. There has been a huge demand for inclusive programs like ours on the Central Coast and as a branch we now have more than half of our clubs running dedicated inclusive programs - and others supporting individual children within their age groups.

What does it mean to you as a surf lifesaver to be changing communities and changing lives?

It means a lot to me to be able to contribute to the local community. I have gained so much from my involvement in the Surf Life Saving movement and I'm really happy to be able to pay it forward. After patrolling for many years and holding positions within the Branch, I think the most rewarding thing I have been involved within Surf Life Saving has been the Inclusive Nipper Program. I'm really proud of the fact that we have become a more inclusive club at Avoca and have made it possible for children who need extra support to access and enjoy the sport that we love so much.

What’s one word to describe the feeling you get from being a surf lifesaver?


National Volunteer Week is a time to acknowledge the people of Australia who generously donate their time to help better the lives of others. Surf lifesavers are some of the most dedicated and outstanding volunteers who really do change communities and change lives. 

Thank you to all NSW volunteer surf lifesavers for your dedication, service and passion.

Volunteering Australia is inviting everyone to put their hand up and thank volunteers around Australia by waving a special smile of appreciation from home. Upload your wave photo to social media and share using the hashtags #NVW2020 and #waveforvolunteers.


Thursday 21 May 2020