Surf club recognised for returning from near collapse

PLEASED AS PUNCH: Bob Clements and staff are Kawana Surf Club.
PLEASED AS PUNCH: Bob Clements and staff are Kawana Surf Club. John McCutcheon

HE'S been a member of the Kawana Surf Life Saving Club since 1982, when the Kawana area comprised of "big sand paddocks” and the club's base was a small shed that's now used as the club's radio room.

Vice president Bob Clements says there has been a lot of change since then, but the club's resurrection from troubled financial times five years ago is the achievement he's most proud of and the reason it won the Sunshine Coast Business Award for food and beverage this year.

In 2011 the club was "bordering on insolvent”, and its committee swung into action.

Like many surf clubs, the business - its bar, gaming rooms and function areas - had come under the same constitution as the surf life saving club which patrols the beaches and trains surf lifesavers.

In 2011 a second organisation was formed, with a constitution for a new supporters club paving the way for a new approach.

The change allowed the supporters' club, which runs the surf club business, to appoint some professionals to the board with business and hospitality expertise, while allowing the volunteer surf lifesavers to focus on "running the beach and keeping it safe and fatality-free”, he said.

"It was a massive change but everybody was ready for it because the stress of the committee...trying to run the beach and run the business, it was too much in my view.”

The supporters club kept a strong grounding in lifesaving and was connected to its purpose to raise funds for that work, with most committee members also lifesavers, he said.

Bob said the Kawana Surf Club was different to other Sunshine Coast clubs, but since renovations in 2014 it was making a name for itself as a popular beachside venue.

"The others (other clubs) have the high rises and tourists around them, and have cash to spend, but we're still surrounded by residential homes,” Bob said.

"We rely heavily on the community to come down and support us down here on the weekends.”

A five-stage development has been approved by Sunshine Coast Council and in 2014 the first stage saw two function spaces established, and a refurbishment throughout.

In the last 12 months, the club has hosted 126 functions and 23 weddings, Bob said.

It also provide the base, free of charge, to a number of community groups including Lions and Rotary clubs, ladies' fitness classes, the RAAF Kawana Waters Branch, Kawana Waters RSL and the Buddina United Soccer Club.

The surf club's membership has doubled from 3100 in 2011 to 6200 this year, Bob said.

He said the club members and supporters club staff were proud of the recognition from the Sunshine Coast Business and Tourism Awards, which represented the hard work and achievements of many.

"In the last five years we've got the top of management reporting in place and we're over all the numbers,” he said.

"Reporting to all the committees is second to none.

"We measure everything, we do our budgets and monitor them all the time. Where we need to, we put in changes to turn things around. We monitor our expenses.”

In the coming years, members can look forward to some of the club memorabilia returning to its walls, albeit in a style that suits the current design, Bob said. New toilet facilities will also be introduced, and plans for a refreshed main bar are now being discussed by the committee.

Kawana Surf Life Saving Club is looking for 30 new life savers. If you are keen to be trained and help keep our beaches safe call 5444 8642

Topics:  beach safety business business awards 2016 kawana fc kawana surf club life saving sunshine coast business and tourism awards

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