Praise for job well done as SLS season comes to close
GARY Barben insists he is no hero, but there are plenty of people alive because of him who would say otherwise.
The 66-year-old grand-father took a moment to reflect on his 53 years so far with Queensland Surf Life Saving as the 2013/14 season came to a close yesterday.
The occasion was marked along the Queensland coastline with a special memorial day to farewell those who have lost their lives in the surf since the season started in September.
It was also an opportunity to pay tribute to those within the surf life saving community who have passed away over the past 12 months.
The Sunshine Coast's service was held at Coolum.
Just after 9am, Mr Barben and fellow club members from Coolum Beach SLSC paddled out in a surfboat and laid a red and yellow wreath at sea in front of the red and yellow flags.
The Coast-based Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter then performed a fly-over as a mark of respect.
One of Mr Barben's biggest rescues came around this time last year when he swam out to help rescue a family of five, including three young girls, off the Gold Coast.
"It's not hero stuff, that's what we've been trained to do," Mr Barben said.
Mr Barben praised the Surf Life Saving movement for providing a healthy environment for its thousands of members.
He said joining up with the Maroochydore SLSC at the age of 14 had helped to keep him out of trouble.
"I was living in Paddington in Brisbane, hanging out with the wrong people," Mr Barben said.
"A mate suggested I join up to surf life saving. The older guys at the club got the BS out of us."
SLS is a family affair now for Mr Barben.
His partner Bronny Gilchrist is a member at Mudjimba and his three daughters have all been involved.
Surf Life Saving Queensland Sunshine Coast regional manager Aaron Purchase said the season had been the best in the past five years in terms of conditions.
"We haven't had big cyclonic swell and we haven't had any erosion," Mr Purchase said.
SLSQ chief executive officer John Brennan said six people had drowned on Queensland beaches this season.
"As far as we're concerned, is simply six too many," he said. "This means there are six sets of families and friends who will never see their loved ones again.
"The most unfortunate part is that all of these drownings occurred outside the red and yellow flagged areas.
"It really reinforces the need for people to take a moment and think about their personal safety before entering the water at an unpatrolled location," he said.
BY THE NUMBERS
694: Number of rescues on the Sunshine Coast.
3109: Number of patrolling members on the Sunshine Coast.
15: Number of SLS clubs between Rainbow Beach and Redcliffe.
30,544: Number of preventative actions on the Sunshine Coast.
1093: Marine stings on the Sunshine Coast.
32: Spinal injuries on the Sunshine Coast.