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It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Freshwater SLSC, Coffs Harbour SLSC, Surf Life Saving NSW and Surf Life Saving Australia Life Member, John Mills OAM, who passed away on Tuesday 1 February.

John was surrounded by his loving children Lorraine, Suzanne, John and Alison and family members at the family home, finally at peace and free of any suffering.

One of Coffs Harbour’s greatest ever surf swimmers, John won many local championships and was chosen to represent Australia in 1950, and until today was the oldest surviving member of that touring team to New Zealand.

He received his Bronze Medallion in Coffs Harbour in 1945 – a dedicated volunteer – serving his communities in Coffs Harbour and Freshwater on Sydney’s Northern Beaches with continuous vigilance and service.

In competition John dominated surf race, belt, surf teams and R&R events at Branch, State and National level with both Coffs Harbour and Freshwater.

Coaching has been his life, though. Even as a competitor he was also a coach, and has continued coaching, instructing and mentoring young Australian men and women over his lifetime – coaching countless Club, Branch, Regional, State and National Champions.

It is estimated he has coached over 3,500 young lifesavers and swimmers – from the surf, pools and creeks around the North Coast to the Freshwater beach and rock pool – in swimming, R&R, lifesaving certificate, Bronze Medallion, instructor’s certificate and on to board and ironman training – continuing to produce some great champions.

John was also a long-standing Committee member at Coffs Harbour and Freshwater and at Branch level – holding positions as committeeman, club captain, patrol captain, chief instructor, boat captain, delegate to the branch, club coach, R&R coach, surf coach, board and ski coach and Ironman coach. He also officiated at Branch, Metropolitan, NSW and Australian Championships.

He will be remembered as a proud born-and-bred Coffs Harbour local – a father, grandfather, great grandfather, uncle and father figure to so many, and a great servant of the Surf Life Saving movement.

On behalf of the Board of Surf Life Saving NSW, our deepest sympathies and condolences are extended to John’s family, friends and all who knew him.

Thursday 3 February 2022