Medal great, but people mean more to Branch President

Medal great, but people mean more to Branch President

Far South Coast Branch President and Tathra SLSC Member Tony Rettke Loves Surf Life Saving. Simply.

So if you ask him what brings him back each year, he’s basically like asking him to add two and two.

“I think the answer for everyone, well, it should be, is the pleasure you get from the company of everyone involved,” he says simply.

“It’s a good feeling to do something for the community, but you’re also investing in kids and juniors – they show it’s worth doing.

“That age group, to hang out with old guys like me, we hope they stick around for years to come because we’re like their second family.

“The people, my industry team is great, in my own club and at the state level I enjoy everything and everyone.

“I find it easy to get along with people who naturally give.”

That passion for people – being around those with like-minded values ​​and giving a helping hand to others – has led to many years of valued and wonderful service from Tony, who was recently recognized with the Emergency Service Medal award ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra.

The medal recognizes distinguished service by members of emergency services across Australia, and people involved in emergency response, training or education. Tony and four other members of Surf Life Saving NSW were given the honor this year.

While there have been many rescues along the way, all of which contributed to his well-deserved nomination for the Emergency Service Medal, one still stands on his mind.

“Probably the tragedy of the Tathra Wharf in 2008,” he says without hesitation.

“That’s the biggest I’ve done, and it was with my family and another member.

“We retrieved two children and a father from the water at the wharf in the middle of the night, one of whom was an 18-month-old tied up in the pram.

“The water was thick with blowflies and that made it even more difficult and uncomfortable.

“It was with my family that made it special for me. Unfortunately they didn’t make it, but my family was with me all the way when we tried to save them.”

While Tony is grateful for his experiences in Surf Life Saving, and indeed the recognition that comes with the Emergency Service Medal, he believes there are more important things to focus on.

“I think you have to be careful not to make anyone look better than anyone, whether you’re a 15-year-old ‘bronzie’ or a long-serving president,” he said.

“I appreciate the acknowledgment, someone took the time to write a letter and give me a wrap, but that’s not what we’re doing it for.

“I never thought I would become a lifelong member of Surf Life Saving NSW, let alone the affiliate or my club.

“You do the recruiting and it just seems to evolve, but it’s really not about us, it’s about involving people, and my view on it is young people specifically.

“We just want them to taste it and see what they get out of it. You could lose them for a while, but if you show them the path, they could come back one day.”

Thursday 19 May 2022