LAUNCESTON GP Dr Andrew Jackson returned to his old life saving club at Sandy Point to participate in the one week Bronze camp recently, successfully qualifying for the Bronze Medallion on January 13 and participating in his first beach patrol since the 1970s the following day.
Dr Jackson was an active Waratah Beach Surf Life Saving Club member throughout most of the 70s while studying medicine at Monash University. He left the club after moving to Tasmania, where he has worked as a doctor since, owning and operating his own clinic.
The 62 year old first started to think about requalifying for the Bronze Medallion on a visit to Sandy Point last summer, knowing that he had to overcome the hurdles of age, fitness, and travel.
He successfully trekked to Mount Everest Base Camp last April, and trained in the pool every day for four months leading up to the Bronze Camp, but still found the camp a big challenge.
“There was no question that you can’t be as fit as the 15 to 18 year olds who mainly made up the 14 member squad, and being in a squad of youngsters also takes a bit of getting used to!” he said, adding that his efforts to get running-fit had been hindered by a broken toe before Christmas.
He said his medical knowledge had come in handy a couple of times on the camp, and that he was very grateful for the “truly remarkable” modern-day standard of training and assistance provided by the WBSLSC instructors.
Dr Jackson says he never lost interest in his old club but that for many years Bass Strait had been “too big a barrier” to cross.
Two years ago, however, when he returned to Sandy Point with his sisters to scatter their mother’s ashes on the beach, he was blown away by the “great strides” the club had made, including transforming the “old, ramshackle” A-frame clubhouse into a “modern architectural tour de force”.
“The equipment and facilities are now something that we couldn’t dream of back in the day,” he said.