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The following contains excerpts from Evolution of an Icon: 100 Years of Surf Lifesaving in NSW. Today we remember and pay tribute to all surf lifesavers who have served their country. 

There are many unique and heroic stories of our earliest members being enlisted to serve our country. If you have one, please submit it to for us to share. Here is one story of SLSNSW life member and SLSAA president of 40 years, Sir Adrian Curlewis. 

From the 1939 'Surf In Australia' publication:

"We are at war.

"This is not news to anyone today... our Association will be shaken to its foundations from the sudden change in world affairs... Small clubs containing many militia men may find it difficult to carry on their usual patrol duties, with a reduced number of active members... The call goes out to active reservists and ex-members of the clubs to rally round and give a hand whilst the younger members are otherwise engaged."

Sir Adrian Curlewis's (Palm Beach SLSC) leadership of the association in the period before World War II was an essential factor in the consolidation of the movement and in the respect in which it flourished. After the war, Curlewis returned to surf lifesaving and served with distinction in many capacities. His support for New South Wales surf lifesaving was unswerving. 

Regarded by many as the 'Father of Surf Life Saving' Curlewis had been a keen administrator and active advocate for surf lifesaving around the world. He was a founder of the Palm Beach club, gaining his Bronze Medallion in 1923, and became club captain from 1923 to 1928. During this time he spent three years as a delegate for his club to the state association and was later elected to the position of vice president. In 1933 Sir Adrian was elected as president of SLSAA. 

During World War II Sir Adrian served in the Australian Military Forces and when Singapore fell in 1942, he was captured and became a prisoner of war in Changi for three and a half years. He worked on the Burma Railway, even then encouraging the training of prisoners of war in surf lifesaving techniques.

On his return to Australia, he continued on as president of the SLSAA and continued with the administration of surf lifesaving until 1975. 

SLSNSW CEO Steven Pearce reflected and acknowledged the role of our service men and women for ANZAC Day 2019, "Today is the day we celebrate and pay respect to the hundreds of brave lifesavers that served our country.

"One such lifesaver who has left an indelible thumbprint through his actions as a leader within his unit, POW camp and the Surf Life Saving movement was Sir Adrian Curlewis. His influence is unmatched across the last century as one of the pioneers of surfing on the Northern Beaches, leading the introduction of shark netting to Sydney Beaches, playing an instrumental role in the adoption of modern CPR techniques and of course as the president of Surf Life Saving Australia."

Lest we forget. 


Thursday 25 April 2019