A veteran of the Hunter surf life saving community, Earl Rennie has received a life membership of Dixon Park Surf Life Saving Club after 47 years on the sand.
And to go with it, he was awarded a certificate that acknowledged 45 years of service to the club. It was the first award of its kind in the club’s 86-year history.
“I’m not one to go chasing accolades, but I really appreciated the thought from the executive committee,” Mr Rennie said.
“It’s something that is really special. The club has been at my heart since I joined it.”
Mr Rennie, 70, has been a member of the club since 1971, when he joined after a few mates invited him in.
A keen sportsman, he had been tied up most weekends until he joined at age 23.
But he took to the sand, and patrolling the surf, with an enthusiasm to do his part for the community.
“I just enjoy it. The people who are in the club, the members, they come from all different walks of life.
“When I kicked off around that time, a bit after the club became a licensed club and I ended up on the committee there and a representative to the branch.
“Plus I did club lock-ups, keeping the club open. We’d close at one o’clock in the morning. It was the only licensed [surf] club in NSW at the time.”
Mr Rennie had spent his early years in the country NSW town of Casino, but he always enjoyed the water.
“I was always in the swimming club there, the closest beach was Evans Head,” he said. “Evans Head Surf Club was a place you could go on Sundays, but they didn’t really have nippers then.
“I came to Newcastle [at 12] and I always went to the beach, and always surfed because I lived at Merewether.”
The lifesaver recalled Dixon Park being just “an old wooden surf club” when he was a kid. He said the existing building was constructed around the time he joined.
“There were some members who put their houses up as security when they got a loan to get the surf club built,” he said.
“It’s developed, obviously nippers came along and there were more girls getting into surf lifesaving. It was originally just males and it was great to see the females come along to see just how good their skills were.”
Mr Rennie lives at New Lambton now, but he stills gets to the beach as much as he can – around being kept busy with three kids and three grandchildren.
He will return to regular seasonal patrols when the season kicks off next month.
He is looking forward to captaining his patrol for another year.
The feeling of giving back to the community is still something that provides him with great pride.
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