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Our Profile of the Month for December is Lee Howes from Newcastle SLSC. The talented surf lifesaver wears many hats serving as the Chief Training Officer and Events Coordinator at her club, while also claiming a bag of medals at State, Australian and International level.

A relative latecomer to Surf Life Saving after joining in 2007, her enthusiasm is infectious and she holds multiple positions at club level and has also been awarded the title of Hunter Lifesaver of the Year.

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

I officially joined in 2007 although we were involved with Nippers for about seven years before that with our three boys. Initially, it was the thought of going back to competing that drew me in but it wasn’t long before I discovered that there was a lot more on offer.

Tell us about your time in Surf Life Saving and what roles you have undertaken.

I obtained my Bronze Medallion in 2007 and absolutely loved it. I jumped straight into competing at Masters with the Newcastle crew and got hooked on the fitness needed to be a good surf competitor. The more I did patrols I realised how important it was to have qualified and capable people on the beach. I completed a few more awards including my basic beach management and soon had my own patrol.

After our CTO left my husband Tim and I took over the Bronze training. I also did the Assessors course and we went about building a really good education team. In my time at Newcastle I have been the Director of Surf Sports, the unofficial Club Captain, the bar tender, the Social Secretary, Swim Coach, Team Manager, and whatever else was needed. I am currently the CTO and Major Events Coordinator.

What are the key lessons that you’ve learnt from your time in Surf Life Saving?

BE PREPARED! There is no substitute for good training, when things get hairy you need to be able to act instinctively and not second-guess yourself. We have a difficult beach and it can get very nasty, we preach prevention and we are very good at it but when lives are at stake you need well trained capable people ready to act and this is why we take our training very seriously. Also the importance of teamwork, whether it is on patrol, running an event, working with the committee or competing, having a team that is well oiled and making sure all the bases are covered makes a huge difference and just about anything is possible.

Describe what it’s like to be a member of Newcastle SLSC.

It’s a family. We are not a huge club but Newcastle has a huge heart, from the moment we joined we felt part of something very special. Over the last 10 or so years we have met some of our closest friends, all like-minded people who love the beach and a healthy lifestyle. We are very lucky, some clubs have one or two key people who are the real lynch pins of the club, we have a plethora of people all of whom put in a huge effort and make our club great.

Tell us what it is about training members that you enjoy.

Training Bronze squads is a truly satisfying experience. The skills we teach are so relevant to our Australian lifestyle and we have experienced time and time again these skills being put into practical application when our graduates carry out rescues on patrol. Knowing we have enabled these people to do this is extremely rewarding.

What are you looking forward to about summer holidays?

My husband is a school teacher so summer holidays for us means we get to have some time away together. We take our skis, mals and our pushies and camp at the beach and just enjoy the sun and surf with some of our surf club buddies.

What are your goals within Surf Life Saving?

My goals have never been grandiose. I just want to contribute and hopefully make a difference by giving my time to train others and help the club raise money so we can keep doing what we do.

What has been your best memory so far as a surf lifesaver?

I have so many great memories from surf lifesaving. I have won medals at State, Aussies and World Masters Championships, I have been the Hunter Branch Lifesaver of the Year, I have paddled a board from Sydney to Newcastle as a support crew for Al Metcalf, I have overseen numerous Nutri-Grain events, ocean swims and a 26km walk and have trained hundreds of people to become lifesavers so picking just one memory is almost impossible.

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

Henry Scruton the President of Hunter Surf Life Saving. Henry is one of the most selfless, committed, caring and encouraging people I have ever met. He gives up so much time to training, developing and promoting surf lifesaving and he is such a positive role model. He is always there to lend advice in a fatherly and nurturing way and he leads by example which I find is an enormously admirable trait.

Favourite beach that isn’t yours?

That is such a hard question as there are so many magnificent beaches that we have enjoyed across Australia. Some of our top picks would be Maroochydore, Barrack Point, Esperance, and Brooms Head but a huge part of our family holidays have been at South West Rocks and that will always be a special place for us.


Tuesday 20 December 2016