Bill Cook receives Australia Day honour
St Huberts Island resident Mr Bill Cook, has received a Medal of the Order Australia in the 2019 Australia Day Honours list.
Mr Cook received his award for services to surf lifesaving.
Mr Cook has been a member of Umina Beach Surf Life Saving Club since 1993 and held various positions with the club over the years.
Mr Cook spent 10 years as a member before moving into more involved roles at the club.
He's been everything from a coach to president at one point or another and was granted Life Membership to the club in 2010.
Mr Cook recalled how he came to join the club.
"Originally I just wanted my bronze medallion.
"I was an avid swimmer back in the day and a friend introduced me to the club back in 1993.
"I've been a member ever since," Mr Cook said.
Mr Cook said it was the club's sense of community that kept him engaged over the years.
"For me it's always been about the people.
"The club is a nice second family to belong to.
"It's a real community.
"The kids all know you and say hello which is always nice and these days I'm training the kids of nippers I trained years ago.
"It's pretty special," Mr Cook said.
According to Mr Cook, surf lifesaving is the only sport that teaches kids how to be volunteers and that side of the sport was another aspect that kept him involved.
"I honestly never heard of any of the kids involved in the club ever having gone off and gotten in trouble later in life.
"Surf lifesaving is about character building and is an opportunity to grow good people.
"Learning to volunteer: There's no other sport that gives that teaches that.
"It really teaches kids how to be a part of a community," Mr Cook said.
According to Mr Cook that sense of community was alive and well in Umina's current stable of young surf sport athletes.
"Look at Jemma Smith for instance.
"She's always in the news for her surf sports: Fantastic athlete, really making a name for herself, but what you don't hear about is how she's always down to help the younger kids or to volunteer for patrol.
"She's very community-minded and I don't think she gets enough recognition for that and she's just one example of young talent at Umina.
"We've got loads of great kids," Mr Cook said.
Mr Cook welcomed a new grandchild in the days prior to Australia Day and will be spending the long weekend celebrating with family and friends.
Media release, 21 Jan 2019
Kaye Browning, Australian Honours and Awards Secretariat
Interview, 23 Jan 2019
Bill Cook, St Huberts Island
Reporter, Dilon Luke