Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club member Joe Keane (front) with (rear, from left) Far North Coast Surf Life Saving branch president Wilson Cregan, Minister for Infrastructure and Local Government Anthony Albanese and club president Kris Beavis; (middle, from left) Member for Page Janelle Saffin, 11-year-old twins Sam and Ben Limpenny-Fawcett; and (front, from left) Lilly Murphy, 8, Natasha Flanagan, 8, Bailey Flanagan, 9, and Morgan Smith, 14, at the funding announcement for the new $5.8 million clubhouse.
Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club member Joe Keane (front) with (rear, from left) Far North Coast Surf Life Saving branch president Wilson Cregan, Minister for Infrastructure and Local Government Anthony Albanese and club president Kris Beavis; (middle, from left) Member for Page Janelle Saffin, 11-year-old twins Sam and Ben Limpenny-Fawcett; and (front, from left) Lilly Murphy, 8, Natasha Flanagan, 8, Bailey Flanagan, 9, and Morgan Smith, 14, at the funding announcement for the new $5.8 million clubhouse. JERAD WILLIAMS

Surf club on crest of wave

LIFESAVERS will be on the beach to respond to emergencies within two minutes once the new surf club is built at Ballina.

The Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club has been operating out of a shipping container on the foreshore of Lighthouse Beach after its clubhouse was demolished several years ago.

But while in Ballina yesterday, the Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Local Government, Anthony Albanese, announced a Federal Government promise of $2.3 million toward building a new clubhouse.

Mr Albanese said the club’s current set-up was ‘not good enough’ in terms of safety.

“This project will deliver first-rate facilities for the club to provide vital training and life saving skills for people of all ages,” Mr Albanese said.

He attributed the ‘pester power’ of Page MP Janelle Saffin for the Government’s financial commitment to the project.

“It costs me money every time I talk to her,” Mr Albanese said.

The clubhouse will cost a total of $5.8 million to build and will be paid for with funding from the grant announced yesterday, and with contributions from the Ballina Shire Council and the surf lifesaving club.

Club president Kris Beavis said the new clubhouse would be built to withstand harsh coastal conditions.

The previous Lighthouse Beach clubhouse had to be demolished because it had failed to endure the erosive coastal winds and salt water.

Mr Beavis said the club’s rescue boards were currently stored in shipping containers in the car park at Lighthouse Beach. But the new, purpose-built clubhouse would enable lifesavers to respond more quickly in rescue situations.

“If it was all in the one building we could be on the beach within two minutes,” Mr Beavis said.

The club has also experienced difficulty retaining members because it has no decent facilities.

“There is a whole generation of members who have never had a hot shower after conducting a patrol,” he said.

Last month, the Joint Regional Planning Panel approved a development application for the construction of the new clubhouse.

The club has 500 members, including 200 nippers and 120 patrol lifesavers.

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