HONOURED: William (Bill) Cook received an OAM for services to surf lifesaving.
HONOURED: William (Bill) Cook received an OAM for services to surf lifesaving.

Top blokes take double honours for Umina SLSC

IT WAS a big Australia Day for Umina Surf Lifesaving Club with stalwart members William (Bill) Cook receiving an OAM for services to surf lifesaving and Robert (Bob) Powell the Central Coast Council Community Volunteer of the Year Award.

Bob received his award the day before Bill, who was there to congratulate him, but had been sworn to secrecy and couldn't say a word about his own award.

Both men say the Umina club, its members, and surf lifesaving itself are special.

"We've just clocked over 1000 members, so that's a pretty big achievement," Bob said.

"I've never seen a club with such great leadership across all areas ... and focussed on building for the future."

Bill said there wasn't another sport in the world that gives children the opportunity to become water and surf safe and give back to the community as volunteers without even realising it.

"I've been here for a lot of years, and I don't know one kid that's gone through that's ended up a bad kid," he said.

Bill, from St Huberts Island, has been a member since 1993, when membership was around the 300 mark, Life Member since 2010 and has held just about every position in the club.

That includes two stints as president, having been treasurer, an executive member, sponsorship co-ordinator, on the building committee and building officer, bar manager and assistant Masters coach, since 2007.

He's even put the bins out - literally!

Bill has also been a member of Ettalong Pelican Masters Swimming Club since 1990 and of the Rotary Club of Woy Woy since 1986, serving periods as president of both and becoming a Paul Harris Fellow in 1994 as well as receiving the International Sapphire pin.

He was awarded Gosford City Council Citizen of the Year in 2008 and nominated for the Senior Australian of the Year.

Bill said receiving the OAM was "pretty humbling", "an unbelievable honour", as well as "totally unexpected", having known nothing about his wife Wendy's "behind-the-scenes" plotting for almost two years with retired police officer Graham Kinross who nominated him.

LOVING IT: Robert (Bob) Powell received the Central Coast Council Community Volunteer of the Year Award.
LOVING IT: Robert (Bob) Powell received the Central Coast Council Community Volunteer of the Year Award.

Bob, originally from Sydney's Northern Beaches, has lived at Kariong for 40 years and became involved in surf lifesaving through his daughter in 2000, having previously always been a winter sport fan.

But with a history of 37 years as a training and development consultant, and his certificate in Work Place Training, it wasn't long before Umina SLSC worked out Bob was a pretty handy recruit.

He hasn't looked back, becoming a Life Member at Umina in 2018.

Having retired from work 12 years ago, Bob has educated and assessed thousands of surf lifesavers in his role as Chief Training Officer at Umina, and says he particularly enjoys seeing the satisfaction of members of all ages from 15 to over-50 completing their Bronze Medallion.

"They have a smile from ear to ear when they realise they are achieving their dream," he said.

He has also conducted numerous community education sessions for all ages and is a patrol captain, whose team, which he has led from the start, taking out NSW Surf Life Saving's Patrol of the Year Award last year.

He has also won a number of other titles, including NSW SLSC Assessor of the Year 2014, SLSCC Lifesaver of the Year 2007, Assessor of the Year 2008 and 2014, and Umina SLSC Club Person of the Year 2005 and 2011 and Umina SLSC Patrol Captain of the Year 2018.

Bob said he wasn't sure what to say when he was announced Community Volunteer of the Year.

"It's really nice to be recognised, but that's not why we do it, it's because we love what we do and it's a great environment to be in," he said.


Other Seniors to earn Australia Day honours this year included fellow surf lifesaver David Thompson, who was awarded an AM for significant service to surf lifesaving at local, state and national level.

David lives at Umina and has been a member of Ocean Beach Surf Life Saving Club since 1977, becoming a Life Member in 1995, including stints as president, vice-president club captain and committee member, as well as state and national honours.

Kenneth Austin, from Green Point, received an OAM for his service to the community after more than 35 years with the Rotary Club of Gosford North, including stints in various offices including president.

Norm Strong, 90, of Berkley Vale, received his OAM recognition for service to rugby league, including playing for the North Sydney Bears from 1947 to 1962. He was also a foundation club member and inaugural president of Pitt Town and District Sports Club in 1980 and a gold medallist in weightlifting in his 70s at Maters Games.

Seniors to win Central Coast Council awards this year included cancer education and research advocate, Yvonne Crestani as Citizen of the Year, and Lyndall Parris, of Narara Ecovillage, for the Environmental Award.

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