Gordon Godwin speaks with Focus about being the longest standing SLSC member of the Forster Surf club.
Hi Gordon, you have been involved with the Forster SLSC since its very early beginnings. How old are you now?
I turned eighty two last month… I’d like to be sixty though … better yet–, 21! I was born in 1927 at Bulahdelah. I have been living in Forster since 1937. It was in 1944 that the SLSC started taking shape, as we were a bunch of 16 year old boys in town who weren’t old enough to go to the war, but not young enough to be doing nothing! I was inspired to get involved because of the fantastic Tuncurry Surf Club, one of Australia’s best in its day. One day, hopefully, it will be back again.
The war was going on, all our older mates were fighting … but it seemed I was born in the lucky age, and by the time I turned 17, in 1945, the war ended. At the time, it seemed that we were virtually the oldest guys in town, so we got involved with the beach under the guidance of a bloke named Gordon Wilson from Dee Why Surf Club, who has since died. He was a great man. That’s when it all began. > How did the Forster SLSC begin to grow from there?
> How did the Forster SLSC begin to grow from there?
After the war, the SLSC began to grow immensely. It was very vibrant and it began to build after the war ended because we had magic beaches. We were all a great team of mates. Discipline was easy to handle then … throughout its life, I would say Forster SLSC has been one of the most active sports clubs in Australia.
Club Presidents like Phil Whitaker, Ian Tullock, Billy Belton, Col Haig and our President Secretary John Quinn, who brought it to a modern age and contributed greatly to its success.
For many years, the club has been at the forefront of competitions. For fifteen years straight, we were the rowing champions and Senior Club! > What have been some of the more memorable developments since its beginnings?
> What have been some of the more memorable developments since its beginnings?
Certainly, since my involvement, the inclusion of women and the Nippers has made the SLSC so much stronger. Some of the women in our club are outstanding athletes, brilliant sports people. Some are better than the men! And the Nippers program has allowed for beach culture to boom. > What keeps drawing you to the club after an outstanding 65 year membership?
> What keeps drawing you to the club after an outstanding 65 year membership?
I love the beach and the heart of the surf club. You could say it’s in this family’s blood; I have four boys and one girl who all went through the club and are all champion swimmers. That’s one thing that I am most proud of – that my family have these skills to help others too. I have been in every position at the club imaginable … Secretary, Treasurer, President!
I think what keeps attracting others is the ever growing ambition to be fit in this day and age. The Nippers learn a lot about beach safety, how to be a lifesaver wherever you are, how to be a part of a team and how to be an individual athlete … there are a lot of fitness and life lessons to be learned at the SLSC.
It’s a magnificent club, and I say this because it is an all year round club … it never stops! Our winter swimming club just went away and won Gold Galore under the Coach Russell Jackson. I still do patrols and swim with the Turtles, and I love being a part of the activities at the club. > How many rescues have you personally made throughout your time as a lifesaver?
> How many rescues have you personally made throughout your time as a lifesaver?
I don’t want to reveal! But I will say that I have made more rescues away from the surf in my time. The skills you learn can be used throughout your whole life, in many other situations. That’s why the SLSC is a great thing to be involved in. > Will you ever retire?
> Will you ever retire?
Only in a box! (Laughs) The beach will always be my life. We are now currently seeking members, so please join!
> Thank you Gordon.
Taree Old Bar SLSC was formed in 1928 after the tragic drowning of a young girl named Ella McNeil. Since then, Taree Old Bar SLSC has had no lives lost between the flags, showing their commitment to the community in keeping the patrolled area safe for the public.
I am writing this to the people of the community in regards to maintaining a safe and patrolled beach at Old Bar. Old Bar Surf Club needs more active members to help keep our beach safe for anyone who wants to swim or surf at our beach.
Old Bar Surf Club is a voluntary organisation, reliant on the support and goodwill of individuals and businesses within the community. We are an open club, with membership ranging from 5 years and up. Male and female members welcome. Family, friendship, fitness and fun are a priority.
Our new management team has a ‘CAN DO’ attitude and encourages all members to do their best.
If you decide to join the surf club, the possibilities are endless, with competition, coaching, education and leadership opportunities, as well as our ultimate goal of patrolling the beach.
Anyone that lives near the sea should know how to read the surf (Surf Awareness Skills), what to do in case of a rescue situation and how to perform CPR and first aid, all of which can be taught to you by our accredited and award winning trainers.
Competition consists of water and beach oriented events including: swimming, rescue board, surfing, surf boats, inflatable rescue boat, skis, and iron man/woman. Beach events include: sprints, relays and flags.
Our qualified trainers can teach education courses such as: surf awareness, water skills and CPR (for Nippers); Surf Rescue Certificate & Radio Communications (for 13 & 14 year olds); Bronze Medallion or Cert II Aquatic Rescue (Nationally Accredited), Advance Resuscitation, Defibrillation, (soon to be nationally accredited as Advance Resuscitation Techniques), Senior First Aid (nationally accredited) Spinal Management, Inflatable Rescue Boat driver and crewman, Jet Ski Rescue, Cert IV Training and Assessment (nationally accredited) for 15 years and over.
All education courses are free of charge for active members who complete their patrol obligations, except for the Surf Rescue Cert and Bronze Medallion/Cert II Aquatic Rescue.
We also have many social functions which we invite members of our community to join in.
The club has a functions license to serve alcohol and a huge kitchen to cater for food.
All active members who complete their patrol obligations have access to the club gear, including the gym.
Old Bar Beach is a very popular surfing spot, running from Wallaby Point to the river entrance at Harrington approx 16 km, of which the surf club patrols approx 3 km.
On many occasions we have been called upon to assist with boats rolling over while trying to negotiate the river mouth at the Old Bar and Harrington entrances.
The beach being so long, there is a lot of exploring to do, and it is a rarity not to see a pod of dolphins going through the patrolled area. At the moment, the whales migrating south are putting on a magnificent display, just off the beach.
As always when outside in the sun, ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’. When swimming, swim between the flags with a friend and always supervise your children. Enjoy life as it was meant to be enjoyed.
For more information, contact either:
The President Taree Old Bar SLSC Laurie Joplin 6553 6608 after 6pm.
The Vice President Taree Old Bar SLSC Bevan Weiley 6553 7718.
The Secretary Taree Old Bar SLSC Donna Abraham 6553 6651.
Club Captain Taree Old Bar SLSC Ben Stevenson 6557 4103.
Or visit our website at