AS the waves rolled onto the shore, they stood in silence looking out to sea. Bathed in sunshine the lifesavers rowed the surf boat into the water. Encircled by the waves, they laid a wreath in the ocean and lifted their oars in honour of those who have lost their lives to the seas and to remember lifesaving members, family and friends who have passed away.
A crowd of 50 volunteers, community members and their families gathered for the annual Surf Life Saving Queensland Memorial Day at the Forrest Beach Surf Club earlier this month.
A beautiful ceremony was conducted at the top of the beach where heartfelt words and prayers were expressed in a moving tribute to honour the volunteers and family members who have died, as well as those who had drowned at beaches along Queensland’s coast.
Forrest Beach Surf Club’s Vice President and Life Member, Bill Johnson said, Memorial Day was a special day for Queensland lifesavers.
He said: ‘Memorial Day is a significant day for our members, and the club is very honoured to host it every year.
‘The event gives everyone an opportunity to remember those who have passed and those who have lost their lives in Queensland waters.
‘It is something that touches the hearts of all lifesavers across our region and gives everyone a chance to reflect on those we have lost and to make sure they are never forgotten.
‘It was especially emotional for me as I personally knew each of those members who are no longer with us.’
The roll of honour included eight members who have sadly passed away during the last two years.
All members were honoured with the date they gained their Bronze Medallion lifesaving award.
John Menico OAM – Bronze Medallion 1947 (Life Member)
Gary Fletcher – Bronze Medallion 1949
Michael Fletcher – Bronze Medallion 1968
Duilio Dezolt – Bronze Medallion 1965
Ian Stewart – Bronze Medallion 1974
Phil Gormley – Bronze Medallion 1977
Kelly Davis – Bronze Medallion 1986 (Life Member)
David Hoult – Bronze Medallion 1989
Mayor of Hinchinbrook, Ramon Jayo was present at the commemorations and spoke to the crowd about the importance of volunteers in emergency services and the sacrifice they make in serving the community.
He said: ‘It’s pretty significant to understand what surf lifesavers actually do.
‘Most of us run away from trouble or danger but surf lifesavers or any member of the emergency services, they don’t run away, they help others in need at that time.’
Mayor Jayo honoured those lifesavers who had passed and thanked the club for their support in providing valuable lifesaving services to the Hinchinbrook community.
The Surf Club made special mention to recently passed friend and Life Member, John Menico.
Mr Menico started his lifesaving journey with Forrest Beach Surf Club back in 1947, where he gained his bronze medallion and donned the red and yellow for the first time.
He was a much loved and valued member of Forrest Beach and the wider surf lifesaving community who dedicated much to the movement as a volunteer lifesaver, competitor, official, coach and mentor.
With an incredible 74 years of service, his contribution to surf lifesaving spanned the country and a testament to that is his Life Membership with Forrest Beach, Ellis Beach and Cairns Surf Clubs, North Barrier and North Queensland Branches, Surf Life Saving Queensland and Surf Life Saving Australia.
The tribute continued as Forrest Beach lifesavers formed a red and yellow guard of honour while Dirk Hoult, brother of the late David Hoult walked the wreath down to the water.
David Hoult was just 47 when he sadly passed away from cancer late last year.
Mr Hoult joined Forrest Beach Surf Club as a nipper in the mid-80s when the junior club was in its infancy.
He was a talented athlete and had great success in the sport, winning a state gold medal in the U15 beach relay in 1989 along with fellow teammates, Matthew Murdoch, Kyle Roberts, Hamish Curness and coach Lenny Chiesa.
The team went on to take out the bronze medal at the Nationals that same year.
Mr Hoult’s friends and teammates were among the crowd paying tribute to their good mate and reminiscing and sharing memories of the ‘good old surf club days’.
The ceremony concluded with lifesavers rowing the surf boat out to sea, laying a wreath in the ocean, lifting the oars and observing one minute silence.
A somber yet touching moment to remember those loved ones gone but certainly not forgotten.
The event also marked the end of the last volunteer patrol for the season, during which Queensland lifesavers saved more than 950 lives, performed 59,451 preventative actions to proactively safeguard swimmers and applied a staggering 7,051 first aid treatments.
Forrest Beach lifesavers will be back on the beach patrolling in September.
Until then, the public is urged to be vigilant when swimming at the beach in the cooler months.