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It is with great sadness that Surf Life Saving NSW advises of the passing of life member Max Waters OAM on 4 February 2020 at 89 years-old. 

Max played a pivotal role as a surf lifesaver and leader. He is credited as an innovator and futurist by friend Ken Wilson. His dedication to the movement was rewarded with life membership from his club, Port Macquarie SLSC, the Mid North Coast branch as well as from Surf Life Saving NSW and Australia.

Max held a number of committee and leadership positions within Port Macquarie SLSC. It was his role as Chief Instructor during the 1950s that ignited his passion for beach safety and education amongst club members and the wider community.

Not only did Max provide extensive support within his immediate Surf Life Saving community, but he also looked further afield to help reduce the incidence of rescues and drownings.

As Mid North Coast Director of Lifesaving, Max worked with SLSNSW to conduct a survey leading to the trial and implementation of the first Beach to Bush program.

In 1994 Max along with Allan Barlin (Wauchope-Bonny Hills SLSC) and David Smith (Camden Haven SLSC) spoke to over 2000 regional and remote school children about beach and water safety. In that first year, he visited 30 schools over two weeks before the Christmas break. It is now a national program that continues annually and has now reached over 260,000 students in 26 years in NSW alone.

It was an initiative that earned Max the NSW Water Safety Award for outstanding contribution to education in 1998 and 1999.

In surf sports Max was involved with R&R and board riding as a competitor. But it was the inauguration of the NSW Interbranch Championships format that will remain one of his greatest sporting legacies. After months of hard work, the first Interbranch event was run at Flynns Beach on 4 February 1967 with 500 competitors.

Despite all his success in development and coordination of events, Max said one of his proudest moments was watching his son Peter compete and win a title at the NSW Junior Championships at Sawtell in 1971-72. 

A valued and long-serving member of the Mid North Coast branch, Max held positions of Secretary, Superintendent and Vice President as well as sitting on the Board of Examiners. In 2005 he coordinated, wrote and published the Mid North Coast 75 Years of Surf Life Saving history book.

In 1999 Max was recognised for his outstanding service to Surf Life Saving and awarded the Order of Australia (OAM).

Even into his later years, Max continued to be a contributing member of the club within whatever capacity he was able.

Max made a truly incredible impact on the Surf Life Saving movement. Surf Life Saving NSW is sincerely grateful for his tireless and selfless service.

Max is survived by wife Pat Waters OAM, and five children Peter, Mark, Kris, Luke and Stephanie.


Thursday 13 February 2020