Blair Walkington, our Volunteer of the Year, is a member of Geraldton SLSC, where he has undertaken a variety of roles, from Patrol Captain to Trainer, while also taking on State-level roles such as Program Director of Surf Life Saving WA’s TOAD and Rise-Up Camps.
With Blair’s priceless involvement in surf lifesaving, we think this career Firefighter can be forgiven for not completing his DIY home projects!
Read more about our Volunteer of the Year below.
Q. Where did you grow up? Have you always lived in Geraldton?
A. I grew up in the Perth hills, before moving to Geraldton seven years ago for work. Prior to that time heading to the beach was probably a once a month thing so moving up here from a lifestyle point of view has been a game changer.
Q. When and why did you join surf lifesaving?
A. I joined in 2011 as a way of volunteering, meeting people in a new town, staying fit in summer and developing a greater understanding of the beach. The fact that you get to utilise equipment such as the ATV and jet ski’s is also a good kicker!
Q. What do you do outside of surf lifesaving?
A. Outside of SLS, I am a career Firefighter with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) and spend most of my time off either at the beach or failing to complete home projects.
Q. How would your colleagues or fellow SLS members describe you?
A. Most would probably use terms that can’t be published on here, but in nicer terms I would say they’d describe me as a bit organisationally pedantic. Hopefully though there’s a few that would say I’m passionate, driven and always willing to lend a hand.
Q. If you could describe the last year in three words, what words would you use?
A. Rewarding, motivating and challenging.
Q. What is your favourite beach outside of WA?
A. It’s a hard one to say considering that I think we have the best beaches in the world but I’m definitely biased. For sheer grandeur, I’d have to say Twilight Cove on the Nullarbor. Takes about 3 hours to 4wd 35km to get in there but you’re greeted by squeaky clean white sand running up to cliffs that are 80m tall. It’s an amazing spot.
Q. What is a quote or saying that you live by?
A. ‘Seek assistance not the answer.’ Meaning that the best way to learn is by figuring something out by doing it yourself with a little help.
Q. Who has inspired you in your life and how?
A. My parents have been my greatest inspiration. Some of my earliest memories are of them volunteering a lot of their time for various organisations such as Rotary and us getting dragged into any little job as child labour.
Now I get a lot of inspiration from the elder statesmen at the club, some of whom are in the 70’s and are still charging around like young bucks. It’s great to see what the healthy lifestyle that SLS revolves around has meant to them. On the other end of the scale every year I get motivated by the TOAD and Rise Up camp attendees. It’s hard not to get swept up in their enthusiasm and be reminded about how cool some of the things that we take for granted are.
Q. What are your plans for the coming year?
A. I’m looking forward to again being involved within Youth Development through the Youth Development Member Advisory committee and by continuing my involvement with the TOAD and Rise Up Youth Development camps as I think they are a vital personal development and retention tool for our most critical membership group. At a club level in taking on the roles of Deputy President and Director of Education. Through those roles I’m excited to put into practice what we spent a lot of time working on in the off season, with the implementation of our new strategic plan.
A definite highlight of the season will also be Geraldton SLSC hosting the country carnival, an event which has always been hugely successful.
Most of all though I’m looking forward to getting back on the beach and in the water with a group of likeminded individuals to promote a fun and safe beach environment
Q. What values has surf lifesaving taught you?
A. Self-Assurance – Surf Life Saving has taught me to back myself and my ideas- sometimes it takes that person with a differing opinion, that potentially the ‘establishment’ doesn’t agree with, who’s willing to stand their ground to create positive change.
Trust – it’s impressed upon me the value and importance of trusting others ideas, opinions and abilities. Every person brings something different and valuable to a team.
Humour – Most importantly, to not take things too seriously
Q. What is one piece of advice you have for younger members of surf lifesaving?
A. Have a go at everything! If there’s a course, qual, camp, college or whatever that you can go on then apply or have a go. Surf Life Saving presents us with some amazing opportunities you’ve just got put yourself out there.
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