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An unmissable business opportunity for former Queensland Surf Lifesaver and passionate ocean enthusiast, Jo-Anne Dryden, delivered Stockton SLSC its first ever female Club Captain, and current Director of Nippers. And now the natural born leader affectionately known around the traps as “Joey” can update her CV as the Club Member of the Month for the festive season.

In 2017 Jo was announced Business Person of the year at the Hunter Local Business Awards and in addition to being a Masters Surf Ski World and Aussie Championship medallist, Jo has the skill set to unite a club.

This is evidenced by the increased Nipper membership over the past three years. Her focus on family, fun and the grassroots of Surf Lifesaving has seen the clubs Nipper membership grow from 105 to almost 300 during her time as Director of Nippers.

Stockton is a tight-knit community and despite occasionally depreciatingly referring to herself as  a blow-in to the area, Jo has developed strong connections at all levels, from the youngest Nipper to the “Old Boys of Stockton SLSC”. 

The feeling of originality and true sense of surf life saving is what drew Jo to Stockton SLSC and the opportunity to help kids compete, become lifesavers or just take away the surf safety message of "swim between the flags" is what keeps her around.

Here at SLSNSW, we are sure this passion for giving to others and imparting valuable surf knowledge will continue for some time and for this reason Jo-Anne Dryden has been chosen as the December Club Member of the Month. 

When did you join Surf Life Saving and what appealed to you about it?

I was a member from very early in my childhood at Northcliffe on the Gold Coast but circumstances changed and I went across to Outrigging, as I love the ocean too much not to be part of it in some way. 

In 2008 a fantastic business opportunity came along which involved myself and my 2 1/2-year-old daughter moving down to Stockton.  It was shortly thereafter that I joined Stockton SSLC, and as   soon as I walked in I was taken in by the originality and felt the true sense of surf life saving at its best.

Can you tell us about your time in Surf Life Saving and some of the roles that you have undertaken?

Once living in Stockton I decided to go down and take a look at the surf club.    I loved the family feel that it gave off and I joined on the spot. I then obtained my Bronze medallion and a year later became Surf Sports Direction, a position I held for two seasons.

 I then become the first Female Club Captain in Stockton's history, a post that I held for 2 years before becoming the Director of Nippers and currently in my 3rd year in the role.  Although I am still a "blow-in" in Stockton I love giving back to the tight-knit community.

As the Director of Nippers at Stockton SLSC what do you most enjoy about the role, and what makes the club so special?

Managing Nippers every Sunday is a huge logistical task that involves a lot of time, but when I see those smiling faces turn up eagerly waiting for nippers to start, my heart melts and makes all the time and effort put into the position worth every cent.  

I came from the Gold Coast where the majority of clubs contain poker machines to help raise funds for their club to purchase new equipment.   At Stockton Surf Club we are a small club but one that is a family orientated and a very much community focused.

The members especially the M.O.L.E.S (which stands for Men of Leisure and Enlightenment Society - I call them the old boys of Stockton Surf Club) always find time to give back to the community by helping raise money through their coffee club that is held every morning at 10.30am, and this is again something that brings the club closer together.

Could you describe what you are most looking forward to about the 2017/18 season?

To further the skills of our Nippers to help them keep safe. 

It is very fulfilling to see children who are a little hesitant at the beginning of the season grow their confidence and skill set by season's end to achieve their many goals like swimming without assistance around the buoy, or catching a wave into the beach. 

What are your goals within Surf Life Saving?

My goals are to keep giving back to the community by encouraging parents and children to be a part of an organisation that keeps our beach safe for not only our community but also for the visitors who come to our great stretch of coastline.

Who is someone you admire in the Surf Life Saving movement and why?

All of our volunteer members because life is generally busy for us all with work and family commitments.  For those volunteers to turn around and give back more time to the community to help keep our beaches safe is very special, and it is these people that I admire.

What is your favourite beach that isn’t yours?

Greenmount Beach at Coolangatta.

It’s  a family orientated beach that today still feels like it did back in the 70’s and 80’s.

Finally, what has been your best memory so far as a surf lifesaver?

My best memory is happening every Sunday when I get to go down to Nipper and competition and see my daughter now 12 learning the skills to keep not only her safe but others who are at the beach as well. I love going down and watching her compete while at the same time having fun in the surf.


Tuesday 8 January 2018