Our longest serving Life Member, David Blackley and his wife Sylvia, herself a Life Member of the Ladies Auxiliary, were recently surprised with a morning tea in honour of David’s 60 years of Club Life Membership. David and Sylvia had also recently celebrated their 90th birthdays.
About 20 people were in attendance in the Club’s Members Area, including fellow Life Members, past and present Club Presidents, members of David’s successful R&R teams and their respective partners. Carol Duffield, a Life Member of both the Club and the Ladies Auxiliary, sent her best wishes from Europe. The Club’s oldest Life Member, Ron Bennett, could not attend but sent his best wishes for the day.
David was elected a Life Member of the Club in 1963, while Sylvia was made a Life Member of the Ladies Auxiliary in 1971. David was made an SLSWA Life member in 1975 and in 1979, became the Club’s first and so far only National Life Member.
Master of ceremonies Brian Troy read out a message from SLSA National President John Baker, personally thanking David for his significant and sustained contribution at Club, State and National levels and noting the extraordinary milestone was without equal to his knowledge.
SLSWA Director Mike Shaw, representing SLSWA, presented David with a framed letter from State President Craig Smith-Gander, noting the incredible contribution David has made to the movement over a sustained period.
“60 years of membership of any organisation is a milestone many would never achieve, but to reach 60 years as a Life Member must be celebrated as the incredible achievement that it is”.
David joined the Leighton Club as a 16 year old in 1949 and gained his Bronze Medallion in November of that year.
He held numerous positions in the Leighton Club, including President, Junior & Senior Vice President and Club Secretary, as well as Social Secretary/Social Director.
In the 1962/63 season, David instigated the Club’s first Juvenile (Junior) Division with 118 members – what we now call Nippers.
After the award of Club Life membership in 1963, he continued an active role in the Club as Chief Instructor (what would now be called Manager Lifesaving Education), Publicity Officer, Social Secretary and was again President as the Fremantle Club’s 2nd President from 1977 to 1980.
David coached the Club’s Rescue and Resuscitation team to seven State Titles between 1968 and 1977. At the Australian Championships at Clifton Beach, Tasmania in 1969, he came ever so close to coaching a National Champion side when the Leighton team out drilled every other club on the beach but finished second once the swim times were added – unfortunate that that year North Cronulla won both the R&R and the Open Surf Teams!
A member of that 1969 team, Life Member Keith Bridle spoke with passion about what David had meant to him, the team and the Club. He presented David with a framed photo of the R&R team from 1969, with David photoshopped in – apparently he was on State Team duties at the time the photo was taken!
Club President Jette Oksis then thanked David and Sylvia for their service to the Club and invited them to cut a celebratory cake.
It would be fair to say that everyone enjoyed the morning, especially David and Sylvia!