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It has been a big year for the Mona Vale Surf Life Saving Club. Designs for new clubhouse have been approved, planning is underway for the club’s 100-year anniversary celebrations and members recently elected their first-ever female Club President.

In this Q A, Mona Vale SLSC’s recently elected President, Paula Tocquer, discusses her passion for surf sports, the club she loves and her vision for a strong and vibrant Mona Vale SLSC as they approach their centenary year.

Has the significance of becoming Mona Vale SLSC’s first female president, and one of only 13 female Surf Life Saving Club presidents in NSW, sunk in yet?

No, it is not where I thought I would ever be. We have been planning this for some time as a Committee. I have enjoyed being Club Secretary for the past four years and feel I have achieved a great deal.

My new role will be a steep learning curve, but I know former President Bryce Munro and the Committee will be there to support me. I will give my best to my club.

Why do you think it has taken 100 years for Mona Vale to have a woman at the helm?

Surf Life Saving has traditionally been a male-dominated organisation. Women were only admitted as full members in 1980 and it has taken time for women to join Mona Vale SLSC, gain experience and knowledge and work their way up through the ranks.

We can proudly say that this Committee not only has a female President but nearly 50 per cent of the positions will be held by women this season – Club Secretary, VP Finance, VP Member Relations – all women. We have a great team.

Your election as Club President is very significant given it is only 40 years since women could become patrolling members. What changes have resonated most with you over the years?

I joined Mona Vale SLSC in October 2008 and completed my Bronze Medallion the following January. I started competing and teaching ‘Bronze’ that year and finally completed my Gold Medallion in 2012. This was a big achievement for me. I really enjoyed learning all these new skills and meeting new people.

I have only been in Surf Life Saving for the past 12 years which really is not a long time at all compared to some of our longstanding members. Over the years I have seen many female members of our club excel and many young members really embracing vital roles within the club.

I think the younger members both female and male will not only contribute to the running of the club in the next few years but will bring a new way of thinking to all that we do.

You have achieved a great deal in representing Mona Vale SLSC in surf sports events. What have been your highlights?

Yes, I have trained over the past 12 years and it has taken some time to see the results. I must say though, I am lucky to have some great teammates such as Kris Monnock and Sophie Stokes. Without these ladies training and competing would not have been as much fun.

There have been many injuries and a few medals along the way. The most memorable medals would be the ‘Aussies’ (Australian Titles) Silver Taplin Relay in 2018 with Lise Layard and Lisa Critoph. Kris and I won Silver at ‘Aussies’ in 2019 for the Double Ski.

The ladies have had to face some big waves at both State and Aussies over the past few years. We have been trying to get that Gold Medal for double ski for some time now. We will keep trying. Anything can happen and usually does in Double Ski races! I love that event.

What is your vision for Mona Vale SLSC? 

I have a great passion and love for our club and I will do my best to make sure our club continues to thrive within our community. We will be vigilant and at the top of our game as we provide the essential service of keeping swimmers safe. It is important that we continue to strengthen our ‘one club’ policies, from the youngest Nipper to our Life Members, all embracing this special place. When all our members show pride in the Mona Vale SLSC, respect each other and do their best for the community, we only get stronger.

The club is about to celebrate its 100th birthday and is embarking on building a new architecturally designed clubhouse facility. What message do you have for members and the local community?

When I moved from Bondi to Mona Vale in 2008, I joined the club to meet people and be a part of the community. I feel very much at home here. I don’t know how many times I have swept the sand from the clubhouse and watched the numerous changes we have made to try and fit gear in and accommodate an ever-increasing membership.

I can’t wait for the club to have a new building, but I will be sad to see the old place go after housing so many memories over the years. Mona Vale is growing. Our club is growing. The new clubhouse will welcome the Mona Vale Boardriders’ Club and have better access for patrolling, plus beautiful areas to enjoy yoga or a meal with family.

Our Members’ space has always been open to the wider community and we hope to see more new faces, like I once was, enjoying our brilliant new facility. The entire Mona Vale community will be able to share in something wonderful as we look forward to creating some new memories together.


Tuesday 25 August 2020