Man behind the life guards honoured

Colin Weatherall has been made a life member of Surf Life Saving New Zealand after nearly 50 years of involvement in the sport. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Colin Weatherall has been made a life member of Surf Life Saving New Zealand after nearly 50 years of involvement in the sport. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Colin Weatherall joked life membership was normally bestowed on those who were on their way out.

He is definitely not on his way out.

The former Dunedin city councillor was made a life member of Surf Life Saving New Zealand last month after almost 50 years of service.

It all started in 1980 when he took his son Mark along to the Brighton Surf Life Saving Club and asked: ''What can I do to help?''

Plenty, as it turned out.

The 72-year-old has done just about everything since then except serve as a lifeguard.

He has been a coach, a manager, an administrator, a board member, an official and always a passionate advocate for the sport and the wellbeing of the Brighton Surf Life Saving Club.

He played a role in helping to get the new clubrooms at Brighton built - they were opened in 2014 - and he was instrumental in implementing changes to modernise the structure of surf life-saving throughout the country.

His passion, though, has been for IRBs and the sport has taken him all around New Zealand.

''I got to visit many beaches,'' he said.

''Not all the beaches in New Zealand, but we've visited 100 and something beaches in our time. You make lots of friends and meet lots of people.''

With five out of his six grandchildren involved in the sport, there is a lot more surf life-saving in his future. He would not have it any other way.

''It is back to the beach for us,'' he laughed.

But despite his enormous contribution, he was a little embarrassed by the life membership honour.

''I'm a bit humbled by it,'' he said.

''In fact, I wasn't very comfortable with it. The first thing is, I've never been a lifeguard.

''I've never been a lifeguard who actively patrolled. I've certainly supported and done lots of things around that. I've been involved in search and rescues and all sorts of things but I've never been a lifeguard.

''That was a little bit of a challenge for me, to accept the fact that I was being given an award from a national body that I didn't think I'd really been too much of a member of. I was sort of an observer from the sidelines.

''But I accept for every lifeguard we have, we need people behind them.

''That's fine, but for me the life membership is for my family, because my family have been hugely supportive. Anything we've done, we've done it together.''

His wife, Anne, has been a tremendous support and his children, Mark, Scott and Tracey, have their own children who are making their way through the surf life-saving ranks.

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