STRONG SPIRIT: Craig Nowlan at the Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club. INSET: The exterior of the new headquarters. LEFT: The Ballina Lighthouse Beach Surf Club beach girl contest, 1970.
STRONG SPIRIT: Craig Nowlan at the Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club. INSET: The exterior of the new headquarters. LEFT: The Ballina Lighthouse Beach Surf Club beach girl contest, 1970. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

New digs for busy surf club

TODAY marks an important milestone in the 80-year history of the Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club.

After almost 10 years of working out of containers, the club will fin- ally move into its new headquarters at Lighthouse Beach.

Politicians, volunteers and community members will gather this morning for the official opening of the new $5.8 million building, constructed with funds from Ballina Shire Council, the Federal Government and the club itself.

It will be a relief for members to have this state-of-the-art facility - somewhere to shower, change, train, store gear and have presentations.

However, the spirit of the club has always been strong.

The Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club was established on September 13, 1933, with the first clubhouse opening at Lighthouse Beach in December that year.

Before that, the organisation's "home" was at South Beach.

Over the years, four members have died on Lighthouse Beach in the line of duty

But during the Depression, Lighthouse Beach at East Ballina started to become popular and the decision was made to set up a clubhouse there.

Its popularity increased so quickly that the building was soon inadequate.

Fundraising for a new clubhouse started almost as soon as the first one was built, and it was opened in 1935 with more then 6000 people in attendance.

The third clubhouse opened in 1961 and was eventually demolished in 2005.

It was built in memory of the 18 members who lost their lives during the Second World War.

Over the years, four members have died on Lighthouse Beach in the line of duty - Patrick Quinn (1934), Len Brunning (1946), Ken McLeay (1962) and Barry Trotter (1977).

A total of 13 members received Meritorious Awards for outstanding bravery.

These were Len Brunning (1946 awarded posthumously); William Heugh (1946); Ray Burniston (1946); Ray Ditton, Robert Joblin, Robert Sargent, Jack Trevan and George Whittleton (1963); Dennis Magnay (1964); Elton Cummings and Harvey Kay (1974); and Steve McNabb and Rhys Balkin (2012).

The club has had many successes during its 80 years.

Last year was one of the highlights, with the club being named Surf Life Saving NSW's Club of the Year and Surf Life Saving Australia's Club of the Year.

A short history

September 1933: Club first formed under the name of Ballina Lighthouse SLSC.

December 1933: First clubhouse opened.

February 1934: First carnival was held. The club had 30 members.

October 1934: Name changed to Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore SLSC to encourage Lismore swimmers to join.

December 1935: Opening of the second clubhouse was attended by more than 6000 people.

1939-1945: Every member enlisted for the Second World War and Lighthouse Beach was patrolled by junior members. Eighteen members died during the war.

November 1961: Third clubhouse opened in memory of those who died in Second World War.

1971: The club invested in its first jet rescue boat, Sea Rescue. The club bought a second boat, the Jack Trevan, in 1977.

1980s: The club and Ballina Shire Council piloted what is now the Australian Lifeguard Service.

1982: The service now known as the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter was formed out of the Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore SLSC.

2005: Lighthouse Beach clubhouse demolished.

July 27, 2013: Official opening of clubhouse at Lighthouse Beach.



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