CAMDEN Haven Surf Club president Glen O’Brien has resigned to make way for new life and study commitments.
Glen, who was president for three years, handed the role to the club’s head training officer Michelle Garvan.
Sitting on the balcony of the surf club overlooking North Haven Beach, Glen reflected with the Camden Haven Courier on his five years with the club.
“Surf Life Saving is a way of life – I learnt a lot out of it,” Glen said, who moved to Laurieton from Sydney for a sea-change.
He said the role helped him connect with the community, and additionally built his event management, risk assessment and emergency response skills.
“It puts you in the position where you can achieve great things with the community,” he added.
These great things include the success of annual event King of the Mountain and the club’s involvement with other events like Christmas in July, triathlons and the Slice of Haven.
Glen’s first executive role with the club was treasurer, being an accountant, it was a natural fit.
At the time the club was not going well financially, the aim was to increase revenue to start going forwards not backwards.
Collectively, through efforts of the club and the community, the situation improved, with close to $100,000 now raised jointly through grants and fundraising.
Glen said the club’s equipment is now ‘top knotch’ – which improves safety for the public and volunteers.
He said his role has given him a strong appreciation for the volunteer organisations in the area, who work hard despite a lack of resources and funding.
“It’s amazing how hard people work to keep our community going,” he said.
“It’s important we all take on these roles, so people can avoid getting burnt out or stale.”
He said within the surf club, “there are a lot of opportunities to contribute to keep our community safe”.
“A lot of people say to me ‘well, I’m not a good swimmer’ – but you don’t have to be an ironman to contribute something big to the club,” he said.
Glen cites education, recruiting and fundraising as key positions within the club, particularly education which ‘saves live’.
“Educating kids especially can stop emergencies from happening,” he said.
Glen said the job didn’t come without its tragedies.
He said drownings have had a ‘devastating’ effect on the community and the club.
“It’s heart-breaking for our members,” he said.
Away from the beach, Glen and club members also participated in the search for missing child William Tyrrell.
Club members worked among the SES, police and other services for days.
He describes the time as ‘gut-wrenching’ and emotionally, the hardest emergency situation he has ever dealt with.
Glen said he is thankful for the support that has been shown to the club from businesses and the community.
He is confident this will continue in Michelle’s capable hands.
“Michelle is and always will be a big contributor to the club,” Glen said.
In her email to members notifying them of her new role, Michelle wrote, “all of Glen’s hard work over the past four years on King of the Mountain has put our club on the map”.
For now, Glen said he will be taking a step back from his responsibilities with the club.
But with patrol starting this weekend, Glen said ‘ironically’, he will be the first back on the beach.