Ellen Porter, from Lorne Surf Life Saving Club, is actively involved in many areas of Lifesaving, including as a Patrol Captain, Building Leaders Scholar, professional Lifeguard and athlete. See Ellen’s story below.
Volunteer Role: Patrol Captain (IRB Captain, Bronze and Silver Camp Instructor, and Junior Captain in the past)
Current Club: Lorne Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC)
How long have you been involved in lifesaving?
I started life saving when I was 14 years old in 2009, so 10 years now!
What made you become involved in lifesaving?
I had many hobbies as a child, so fitting in nippers was near impossible. However, I always had the urge to be near water and wear a patrol uniform. So, at 14, I signed up to do my Surf Rescue Certificate (SRC). I wasn’t the most confident swimmer at the time, so doing the run–swim–run was quite overwhelming. I couldn’t even put my face in the water! Nonetheless, I passed my SRC and achieved what I wanted… to patrol the beach. I continued my lifesaving journey, earning my Bronze Medallion at Lorne SLSC, where I have been ever since!
What are some of your responsibilities at your club?
I have held a number of roles at the club, but am currently a Patrol Captain. As a Patrol Captain, I am responsible for managing my team of patrollers with the aim of keeping the beach safe.
Although also a lifeguard for the Australian Lifeguard Service, I have had the pleasure of transferring my responsibilities as a lifeguard to my leadership role as a Patrol Captain. In the past, I have held responsibilities such as maintaining the Inflatable Rescue Boats (IRB) as a Powercraft Captain, and ran SRC programs as a Junior Captain.
On a different note, I have been involved in a couple of roles during the Pier to Pub swim. As well as helping with water safety in the IRBs, I have had the privilege of singing the national anthem during the event for the last 6 years too. Although, I’ll admit… I do have to look up the lyrics each year!
What do you most enjoy about lifesaving?
I could say so many things! I have relished the opportunities that lifesaving has given me. As a result, I have enjoyed meeting, working and networking with such a diversity of people!
I have also enjoyed the journey I have taken in lifesaving. From starting out as a young SRC to being involved in many volunteer opportunities such as the Building Leaders Scholarship, IRB Racing, Bronze and Silver Camp instructing, to being employed as a Lifeguard and RWC Operator – it’s safe to say that lifesaving has kept me busy!
How do you encourage others to get involved with lifesaving and volunteering?
It might sound cliché, but honestly just give it a go! As I mentioned, I wasn’t the most confident swimmer when I did my SRC. However, with just a bit of courage, I applied for anything through life saving that I was interested in. The more things you sign up for in lifesaving, the more experienced you’ll become, and the more opportunities that will arise!
What is your greatest achievement in lifesaving so far?
While gaining an award or preventing a rescue in life saving are achievements in themselves, I believe my greatest lifesaving achievement was as a scholar in the Building Leaders Scholarship (BLS) in 2017.
Participating in a year-long leadership and team-building development program really added to both my professional and personal skillsets. I worked closely with a small team of like-minded people with diverse lifesaving backgrounds to ultimately develop a training program to teach in Sri Lanka. Our team instructed lifesaving skills such as IRB Driving, First Aid and Rescues to Sri Lankans from many different emergency services such as the Coast Guard, Police, Army and Navy. I would highly encourage everyone to apply for the BLS program, as it will not only change lives in Sri Lanka, but your’s too.
When you’re not lifesaving, what keeps you busy?
I won’t deny that I lead a busy life, but don’t we all?! If I’m not lifesaving, I am usually either working, catching up with friends or going on an adventure! Funnily enough, most of my jobs revolve around the water. I work as a scuba instructor and an aquarist, so it’s nice knowing what’s on the surface in the ocean as well as underneath! However, when I’m not near the ocean, I am usually practising music covers or composing songs!
What was the best advice you were ever given and who gave it to you?
Sheila Langley, a dear friend and mentor, mentioned to me two small sayings that still remain with me: “trust the process” and “remember the one percenters”. Sometimes ‘not knowing’ in certain situations can be quite daunting. At times during BLS, I was unaware of the changes present in my leadership style. This sometimes was quite frustrating as I was longing to skip the journey and reach the destination. However, ‘trusting the process’ added with a touch of patience was all that was needed to finally see results.
Also, working towards a goal involves brainstorming ideas and processes on how to achieve it. In the past, we may have let less important ideas or processes slide when working towards a goal. However, every idea or process you develop may contribute greatly towards achieving your goal, which is why ‘remembering the one percenters’ is a valuable asset to attain.