It’s hard to believe that 38 years ago, when Margaret Bond joined Cottesloe Surf Life Saving Club, women were not able to become Active members of the Association.
Fast forward to 2017 and women like Margaret, our Administrator of the Year, have been crucial to the success of their clubs and the Surf Life Saving movement – both on the beach and behind the scenes.
Back in July 1980, when women were officially allowed to become Active members, Margaret was part of the first female squad in WA to receive their Bronze Medallion. Since then, Margaret has shown no signs of slowing down. We asked her about her experiences below:
Q. How would you describe yourself in one word?
Q. Tell us about when you first joined Cottesloe SLSC in 1979
A. I’m originally from Queensland and lived at Maroochydore before moving to WA. I had a number of friends from Maroochydore and Alexandra Headland Surf Clubs. My brother was also a member at Noosa Heads SLSC. After moving to Perth I joined Cottesloe SLSC as a social member and became the Social Co-Ordinator, organising club functions.
Once women were allowed to join as Active members, a number of women were keen to obtain their Bronze and the club captain, John Barrington, who was only 20 at the time, was interested in instructing us.
After much negotiation by John with SLSWA, it was agreed we would sit our Bronze exam on 01 July 1980. We completed our dry skills then, but the wet skills assessment was deferred due to the weather and we had to wait until the following Sunday 06 July 1980. We had the usual couple of examiners on the beach and another ten “men in white” spectating.
Upon our return to the clubhouse, we were given a lecture on how to behave in a surf club before the question was asked, “had we passed?”. It was a great achievement with quite a lot of interest from the media.
Cottesloe SLSC is recognised as a family club where everyone has a role to play. I have a loyal band of supporters who always offer to help whenever I call on them for events such as Open Day, the Annual Dinner and the CottMile to name just a few. I couldn’t do it without them and I thank them for their energy, spirit and unflagging support over the years. However in saying that, we are always looking for more volunteers.
Q. What was it like being among the first females in WA to get your Bronze Medallion?
A. Women have played an integral part of Cottesloe SLSC’s history from the very early days where women ran their own carnivals, gave funds to build the men’s clubhouse, assisted behind the scenes, helped with administration and even leadership to nowadays when there is full participation.
It was hard in the beginning as many older members felt there was not the infrastructure within WA clubs for women to belong and to participate in activities and events, however this gradually changed as they saw how committed we were to surf lifesaving and the club. It took another three years before there was any interclub competition for women and then an additional four years before SLSWA ran all events for women in carnivals.
We didn’t do it for glory – it was something we were passionate about and of course still are. Three of the original squad are still active within Cottesloe SLSC and two others are active at other clubs. We’ve met up on 6 July every five years since obtaining our Bronze.
I’ve worked in some way or another for the club ever since obtaining my Bronze including being the first female Handicapper in the club for the 1980/1981 season. I did leave Perth for a few years but always remained a member. Once I returned I naturally reconnected with Cottesloe SLSC and have held numerous and quite varied positions throughout the years and in 2013 I was privileged to receive a Life Membership.
Q. How has being a lifesaver changed since you first joined?
A. Many of my generation and the generation before are still in the club and close friends to this day. We relished doing patrols and meeting up afterwards to relax and have some fun.
Our patrol tower was 8 metres high with a ladder on the outside and a trapdoor into the lookout box. The person already in the tower had to straddle the trapdoor to let the next person in – not great if you have a fear of heights.
Our Boxing Day BBQs were renowned, with people coming from far and wide to attend. We started our own swim club, the Walruses, at Beatty Park and had over 30 members attend each Monday night. We still meet up at the club each Christmas morning for champagne and a get together.
People lead very differently lives now and we often struggle to get active members to complete their patrol hours – an issue most clubs are dealing with and one the Lifesaving Committee is often exploring. Fortunately, there are now any number of ways members can help out around the club and they don’t even need to get wet!
Q. What do you do outside of surf lifesaving?
A. Travel has always been important to me as well as reading and staying in touch with family and friends. This has been so much easier for me since I retired two years ago. I recently went to Spain to celebrate a significant birthday and I’m off to Uluru to see the Field of Lights installation, the Olgas and King’s Canyon in September.
I made sure I was here for our Open Day, which is two days before I leave. Fortunately, I have great support from wonderful parents, the Age Group Managers and our fabulous members who all help me throughout the season.
Q. What is your favourite beach in WA and why?
A. Cottesloe Beach of course! How could you not love the wide, white sandy beach, the majestic Norfolk pines and Sunday slurpies at the Club watching the sunset over the beautiful Indian Ocean while looking for our famous green flash.
Q. In what way are you the same as your childhood self?
A. I always loved to read as a child and family and friends have always been important to me. I grew up with 3 siblings and although they all live around Brisbane we are still very close. We loved to joke and tease each other as children and we still do so to this day.
Q. What is your favourite song lyric or movie quote?
A. I don’t really watch movies and while I love going to concerts I prefer peace and quiet when I have spare time. There’s an old English proverb ‘Where there’s a will there’s a way’ and that probably sums it up for me. If you are determined enough, you can find a way to achieve what you want, even if the road ahead is difficult and fraught with obstacles.
Q. What is the funniest memory you have from your time with surf lifesaving?
A. When I look back there are just so many happy times and fond memories but one that comes to mind are the Australia Day Country Carnivals. Cottesloe SLSC was a great club for attending the carnival, back in the days when we had a long weekend for Australia Day, and the Cottesloe Revues were renowned.
A large contingent would travel to the carnival and all stay in the one area at the campsite. On the Saturday night we would dress up and perform skits followed by a BBQ.
Clubs would try and stay near us and have their chairs set up theatre style ready for the revue and the Managers of the Denmark Caravan Park always made sure they had front row seats. It was so much fun and made for a great weekend.
Q. What is your favourite joke?
A. I’m one of those people who loves hearing jokes but can never remember them!
Q. If you could speak to everyone in the world at the same time, what would you say?
A. “Hello World” … one for the IT people! On a more serious note I would ask what could you do today to make a positive change for yourself and those around you? It doesn’t need to be big but something to make a difference and perhaps to make someone around you smile.
Q. What values has surf lifesaving taught you?
A. Commitment, loyalty, dependability and enjoyment are just a few that come to mind. Our club values are respect, excellence, honesty, fun, potential and achievement, which guide us in all areas of the Club’s operations.
The skills, knowledge and leadership opportunities you develop and undertake at a surf club can assist you in all aspects of your life both personally and professionally.
Q. What is one piece of advice you have for younger members of surf lifesaving?
A. Be bold – you can achieve great things with belief in yourself particularly with help and assistance from other members. Take advantage of the experience the older members have and learn from their wisdom. Talk to them and get to know them and listen their thoughts and suggestions. While at the club watch and learn and give back, as it is often when we give back that we truly see the path ahead and perhaps mostly importantly have fun, laugh more and find enjoyment in every day.
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