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More than a century of wisdom, experience and dedication has been recognised by Surf Life Saving Australia, with two of Freshwater SLSC’s finest awarded Life Membership by the national organisation.

Both Michael Bate and John Mills OAM have taken their love of the ocean to other clubs over time – Michael began his surf lifesaving journey at Fairy Meadow SLSC in the Illawarra and John is a member of Coffs Harbour SLSC – but they share a connection to the Northern beaches club and a fierce loyalty to both Surf Life Saving and the community therein.

For Michael, Life Member Cap 305, it’s a loyalty forged through more than 50 continuous years of service where he has made a prominent, notable, and outstanding commitment through various roles at Club, Branch, State and National levels.

Cherry picked from a long list of achievements, and using his business and financial background, of note among Michael’s highlights is securing a Branch headquarters for the Sydney Northern Beaches. As a result, Sydney Northern Beaches is the first Branch in Australia to direct SLSA funds back to Clubs.

As a member of the NSW Executive Board, he was integrally involved in the purchase of the new SLSNSW Headquarters and played a significant role in the successful establishment of a long-term future fund to help protect SLSNSW from financial stress.

Michael is also a distinguished Referee who is respected by organisers, officials, and competitors. He has led teams in the international competition arena and was highly regarded by team members, international officials as well as opposing teams.

“Most important for me, however, is the friendships,” Michael said.

“You never go striving for accolades, and while I am humbled by the award (SLSA Life Membership) and the various achievements I have been a part of, it’s the lifetime friends that I started with and still catch up with that make it worthwhile.

“Surf has been very good to me, my wife and my five kids. We went through it together, and we’ve all become better people.

“The longer you’re involved, the more it means.”

If that is indeed the truth, then a man who embodies the very meaning of Surf Life Saving is fellow SLSA Life Member, John Mills OAM.

John, Life Member Cap 308, is one of Australia’s longest serving and most successful surf sports coaches. At 93 years young, he has had an unbroken level of commitment to the movement, actively competing at the highest level for 20 years before excelling as a coach at the highest levels for some 60 years, all on a voluntary basis.

Countless competitors have benefited from his extensive knowledge, versatility, enthusiasm and experience over multiple disciplines. An innovator across disciplines as diverse as R&R, Craft and the art of surf swimming, John has proven himself an elite sporting brain.

John has made an eminent, highly respected contribution to the development of surf lifesavers at all levels over half a century – one that is both significant and influential.

SLSA Life Membership is given to members who go above and beyond in their duties and responsibilities in Surf Life Saving, and who have shown distinguished voluntary service to the movement over a sustained period of at least 20 years.

Thursday 11 November 2021