After 40 years on patrol, Life Member of Chiton Rocks and Normanville Surf Life Saving Clubs, Graham Smith, has received an Order of Australia Medal in this weekend's Queen's Birthday honors.
Graham began his surf lifesaving career when he did his Bronze Medallion whilst at college in Mentone Victoria but didn't join a club until he became a parent and signed his children up to Nippers on the Fleuireu Penisula in the early seventies.
Now retired, Graham spent time in the military and worked as a Police Officer and Teacher whilst also serving as a volunteer with the Country Fire Service for 22 years.
He was a co-founder at both Normanville and Aldinga Surf Life Saving Clubs and says his time serving as President of "The Club he lives for"(Chiton Rocks) is what he is most proud of in his surf lifesaving career.
Graham says he enjoyed competing as a younger Lifesaver but really it has been training people in new skills that has been his favourite part of surf lifesaving. "Mostly I like training young people. I still do interact a lot with young people down at Chiton Rocks, it's very rewarding, I have always liked doing that kind of thing, I love taking the kids out for a Surf and sharing that with them" said Mr Smith.
Developing young people through their involvement in surf club is one of the most valuable things the movement has to offer its member according to Graham, particularly the opportunity to gain a bit of discipline and self-determination. "Because I am a 'military-type', having been in the Army and the Police force, I see Surf Life Saving as a good way to learn discipline and focus on health and fitness as well as providing good role models for kids" he said.
On receiving and Order of Australia Medal in this weekend's Queen's Birthday honours he said "It is a culmination of all the things I have done in life, it means a lot and it is good for me but also getting the OAM is good for the club".
Like most lifesavers Graham was humble and thinking of his club and his community before himself.
"It is good to have an award like this bring some publicity to Surf Lifesaving, especially given the challenges we have had down south with a number of deaths lately and the road ahead for Surf Lifesaving in this area. If the club wants to do something or get a project organised or funded then they can say; these are the kind of people we are, not me Graham Smith specifically but our Clubbies are good, genuine people working hard for our community and this OAM backs that up. If it is good for the club and Surf Lifesaving it's good for me".
Having not missed a patrol for more than 40 years, we asked Graham what has kept him on the beach for so long "I am a full on surfer, I generally live the Surfer lifestyle and it's great to serve the community too. Chiton has great surf and so I can combine both passions at the club. There's a few of us older blokes and we'll never give it up because we are just nuts on the surf, we are nuts for patrolling and we love Surf Lifesaving and the history and the camaraderie."