Memorial service pays respects to 11 lives lost
STATISTICS showing six drownings on Sunshine Coast beaches have added an even more sombre note to a memorial service marking the end of the 2015-16 volunteer patrol season.
The service at Kawana Waters Surf Life Saving Club yesterday morning was to remember the 11 drownings on beaches across the state this season - six of which occurred in our region: all outside the red and yellow flags and patrol hours.
Patrol members Sean and Eric Lucas made up the father-and-son team selected to carry the wreath down to the beach and into an IRB to send out to sea.
They drove and crewed the IRB, flanked by wave runners from the Sunshine Coast Branch.
Just like our surf lifesavers, bad weather did not deter invited guests from attending the memorial service.
Mayor Mark Jamieson, Member for Kawana Jarrod Bleijie, Sunshine Coast branch president John Thorpe, Kawana Waters club president Denis Abel along with club members representing clubs across the region all took part.
Club chaplain Dony Johnson led the service, saying that of the 1335 rescues performed in Queensland this season, 647 had been on Coast beaches.
"That's 647 Sunshine Coasters who, along with their families, are grateful to be alive," he said.
"It's testament to the important work we do as a volunteer organisation. One life lost is too many and all surf lifesaving members feel this loss. So this service today is an important release of emotions for those who work hard patrolling our beaches."
Young Ellesa Weller, a Kawana Waters nipper and a potential future surf lifesaver, attended with her whole family - all active club members. Ellesa was sad some people had drowned.
"At nippers, we learn how to stay safe at the beach and how to paddle boards like they do in real rescues," she said. "I think if everyone went swimming in the flags, they would be safe there."
Cr Jamieson said that as a community, we could be grateful to the movement for so many reasons.
"We've had an excellent summer with some incredible conditions which has attracted more people than ever to our beaches and this has brought with it some huge challenges with lots of rescues being performed," he said.
"The statistics send a clear message: it's important that people should swim between the flags and not go off to areas where they put themselves at risk.
"People should just stop and think sometimes how valuable surf lifesaving is on our beaches protecting locals and our tourists who ultimately provide huge economic opportunity and jobs for many."