Living legend recognised for his devotion to saving others
AT 91 John Mills is one of the legends of Surf Life Saving in the Coffs region.
So it's not really surprising that he was one of four people recognised for their devotion to Surf Life Savings just before Christmas.
John joined other Coffs Harbour residents Wayne Scott, John Wake, and Robert Hutchinson who have, between them, dedicated more than 160 years of service to the Surf Life Saving movement, an extraordinary achievement.
They were awarded in a ceremony conducted by State member for Coffs Andrew Fraser receiving a signed Premier's Volunteer Recognition Program certificate and a lapel pin, recognising their years of long service.
His wife and one of their two daughters and son's in-law and his wife attended the event with him.
"It was great to have them - unfortunately it was short notice and our other daughter couldn't be there!" he said.
"I have been involved in Surf Life Saving all my life," he said.
John's was a member of Coffs Harbour and Freshwater surf clubs during his long career with surf lifesaving and is a life member of both clubs.
"Our family have always loved the water - my dad was a fisherman and he use to fish the local creeks."
The love of the sea and water permeates through John's whole family.
"We have had five generations involved in Surf Lifesaving."
His uncles, his mother's brothers, joined first and then his older brothers, then John and his sister - all of them were at the top of their game with nearly all taking Australian titles. John was a NSW and Australian title holder.His grandson Kurt Hansen won the Australian title in the belt race and is well-known as a surf commentator his grand daughter is Brooke Hansen the Olympic swimmer.
"Brooke has a son who is swimming pretty well at the moment," a proud John said.
Andrew Fraser said it was important to recognise what people like John and the other recipients give to the community.
"Today, we recognise and show our appreciation to these outstanding volunteers who have demonstrated tremendous community leadership," Andrew Fraser said at the presentation.
"We appreciate their many hours of service to the community to making sure our beaches are safe and to surf education and drowning prevention.
"The knowledge and experience each of them has gained has been passed on to the younger generations of surf club members through training and mentoring."
"Volunteers are the lifeblood of our local communities. They give with no thought of reward and are happy to lend a helping hand where it is most needed," Mr Fraser said.
"I appreciate the remarkable contributions made by all our volunteers across the Coffs Coast, and the camaraderie they continue to create."