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members who go above and beyond in their duties and responsibilities in Surf Life Saving (SLS), and who have shown distinguished voluntary service to the movement over a sustained period of at least 20 years. 

SLSA President John Baker ESM said that he congratulates all three recipients on their incredible dedication throughout their lives to surf lifesaving. 

“I would like to congratulate Geoff, Brett and Don – the latest three members who have been awarded with SLSA’s highest honour of Life Membership,” he said. 

“Their service, dedication and contribution to their clubs, their communities and the surf lifesaving movement is inspiring for all.” 

SLSA congratulates Geoffrey Gowing (Grange SLSC, SA), Brett Harrod (Umina SLSC, NSW) and Don van Keimpema OAM (Shelly Beach SLSC, NSW) on their well-deserved appointments and for their continued dedication to the movement.  

These SLSA Life Members will be formally recognised at the 2021 Surf Life Saving Australia Awards of Excellence and at a Life Members dinner at the 2022 Australian Surf Life Saving Championships. 

The latest recipients take the overall tally of SLSA Life Members to 303.  

Geoffrey Gowing – Grange SLSC, SA.  – Life Member Cap 301  

Geoff was a leader within South Australia becoming involved with powered vessels as rescue equipment. He spent many months trialling 5m IRBs for use in SLS and was the driving force behind SA developing their own “Boat Shed”. Geoff was able to procure sponsorship for most of the tools and equipment required to setup the facility as well as training jet boat drivers in the operation and maintenance of this new equipment.  

Geoff proudly holds numerous State accolades, including South Australian Life Saver of the Year in 1978-79. In 1980 He was a foundation member of the South Australia helicopter rescue crew, a position he held for 19 years.  

Geoff has been instrumental in the development and design/assessment of power-craft and their use as rescue craft within surf lifesaving. He was at the fore front of the development of these craft as well as developing the training and operational requirements for their implementation across all areas of SLSA operations. Geoff was the principal author of the Association’s Training and Examination Manual for the Operation of Jet Rescue Boats.  


Brett Harrod – Umina SLSC, NSW – Life Member Cap 302  

Brett has made a sustained and distinguished contribution to SLS as President of Umina SLSC, Central Coast Branch, Surf Life Saving New South Wales and as a Director of Surf Life Saving Australia. As a SLSA Board member, Brett chaired and facilitated working groups that implemented a number of lifesaving initiatives that have been implemented nationally by SLSA and other states.  

Brett achieved the SLSA strategic goal of financial sustainable by securing $24 million to build 8 new Surf Lifesaving Clubs, allowing them to generate revenue and engage with the local community. Further to this Brett expanded Surf Lifesaving Services by leading and managing the implementation of the commercial operations of SLSNSW services that included the lifeguard and commercial training of SLSNSW.  

Other significant achievements included developing the standard operating procedures for Lifesaving Services and a state-wide emergency services response system which created a national best practice standard; introduction of the 13SURF 24-hour rescue call out service; developing a national event venue selection matrix which enabled a review of venues against a criteria to determine its suitability to conduct events as well as a revised bid hosting criteria and agreements. 


Don van Keimpema OAM – Shelly Beach SLSC, NSW – Life Member Cap 303 

During the 26 years that Don has been a member of surf lifesaving he has dedicated 19 years to officiating on the beach and in the pool arena at a local, branch, state, national and international level. 

Don has been instrumental in surf sport development both within NSW and nationally through education and training of officials.  He played an integral role in the development of the Youth Pathways Cup (YPC). Don was involved with the project from its inception and is credited for the success of this pathway event.  Its legacy will be the long list of youth who have transitioned from YPC into their Interstate and the Australian Lifesaving Teams.  

As SLSA Officials Advisor Don implemented pathways to progress female officials into senior officiating roles. He worked with women across the country to establish the best fit to maximise their officiating appetite and progress their skills for senior roles. Don constantly reviewed the process to ensure female officials were supported and mentored through their journey, many who we see on the beach at national events today. Don’s sustained contribution at national events as Deputy Referee stretches over many years both on the beach and at the pool. He was named the Official of the Year in 2012. 

Don has had extensive international officiating experience, commencing in 2005 at the World Games in Germany where he was deputy referee. He has travelled to Malaysia and Sri Lanka delivering officials and coaches courses.  

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