Eighty-four years is a long time for a club to exist.

Looking back at the Wonthaggi Life Saving Club (WLSC) at the Cape Paterson Bay Beach as an 80-year-old, I recall learning to swim my 25 yards, encouraged by Alan Birt, becoming a Nipper, watching a “donation” from the mine blow up the rocks to construct the pool, passing the rocks from one to another to the hall area to build a retaining wall.

As young members, we developed a sense of responsibility, respect for others and became competent in our work and had fun.

As a single mother, mine was busy as a nurse, confident my sister and I were well looked after at the WLSC.
My links to the club continued over the years with friends and new family generation members. The Scott family became the backbone of the club.

The coffee shop was commenced to provide financial support for increasing costs. It provided a place for families to gather and for people to meet.

Drainage has always been a problem at the bay and this together with the storm created a nightmare disaster at the club.

Hundreds of old and new members responded with support. The beloved hall had to go; the committee are fully aware of climate change and will build accordingly. The Cape Paterson Residents and Ratepayers, among many others, support the WLSC’s intention to rebuild.

Will and Imogen Berry, the fourth generation following their great grandmother Nell, will march on the beach as graduating Nippers come January with the family proudly watching.

This club deserves a lot more respect than it is currently getting and is certainly worth saving.

Beth Banks, Wonthaggi.