It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Coffs Harbour SLSC and Surf Life Saving NSW Life Member, John Wake, on Tuesday 6 September.

John notched up 50 years of service to the Surf Life Saving movement this year, having joined his first club, Urunga SLSC, in 1972.

Eight years later he would move to Coffs Harbour, where he settled for more than four decades as a valued and near irreplaceable asset to the club across lifesaving, education, surf sports and administration.

In that time, he amassed an impressive 176 awards and was well-known at club and branch level as a dedicated IRB coach and scrutineer.

John wore many hats though, and was always willing to lend a hand across any area of the club.

“I’ve known John for 30 years, he was involved in the surf club before me,” North Coast Branch President and Woolgoolga SLSC member, Les Pepper said.

“We competed against him in IRBs for a few years, but on the Branch side he’s been an examiner, trainer, always done an excellent job.

“I worked with him as a Duty Officer as well, and we’ve spent many days, afternoons and nights on the beach.

“Anything to do with surf, John did it. Whenever there’s been a drama, I could just call him and he comes and does it without exception.”

Over the years, John also earned several accolades for his lifesaving efforts including a Lion’s Club Medal of Valour for the rescue of a family on the Bellingen River in 1978.

He also received a NSW Ministerial Service award in January 1990 after rescuing a surfer from heavy seas off Diggers Beach in Coffs Harbour.

He will be missed, however, not simply for the lives he saved, but all the lives he impacted along the way.

He was a dedicated and much-loved Beach to Bush program presenter, volunteering for the regional safety program tour for more than 20 years.

“His enthusiasm will be missed – he was always at Branch carnivals, always willing to help the juniors, he was always there, no matter what you wanted him to do.

“All hours of the day, John would do it. He was a typical surf club volunteer, didn’t hesitate to help.”

John’s funeral is set down for Thursday 15 September at 10am in Coffs Harbour.

Thursday 8 September 2022