Volunteer Profile: Tony Strahan OAM, Stafford Smith OAM, and Peter Maishman OAM

Tony Strahan, Stafford Smith, and Peter Maishman were all recently bestowed a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to surf life saving in the recent Queen’s Birthday honours.

Tony Strahan OAM joined Torquay Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) and attained his Bronze Medallion in 1961. In 1962, Tony won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Perth in the 4 x 220 yards Freestyle Relay.

Stafford Smith OAM attained his Bronze Medallion in 1970, before joining Woolamai Beach SLSC in 1999, where he plays a major role in coordinating the Upwey High School Bronze Medallion Program, which has enjoyed 20 years of success.

Peter Maishman OAM became involved with Point Lonsdale SLSC when he was 16 years old. Peter has been involved in the club ever since, fulfilling many roles, including as a patroller, a competitor, club administrator and club President.

Read their lifesaving stories below:

Volunteer Role:

TS: Life Member

SS: Active Patrolling member and Vice President of the Woolamai Beach SLSC

PM: Patrolling, Competition, Administration, Coaching, Board of Examiners

Current Club:

TS: Torquay SLSC

SS: Woolamai Beach SLSC

PM: Point Lonsdale SLSC

How long have you been involved in lifesaving?

TS: 58 years

SS: I joined Gunnamatta SLSC at the end of 1970 and got my Bronze in early 1971. I later joined Woolamai Beach SLSC in 1999 where I am still actively involved in the Club. So I have been involved in Life Saving for almost 49 years at a club and in a school program.

PM: 65 years

What made you become involved in lifesaving?

TS: The opportunity to use my swimming ability in a surf lifesaving volunteer environment.

Tony Strahan after winning the Rescue Tube Race, World Masters Lifesaving Titles – Lorne in 2006

SS: A love of the surf and a friend who encouraged me to give lifesaving a go. I have never regretted a moment.

PM: I was introduced at 16 years of age and enjoyed my early experiences.

What are some of your responsibilities at your club?

TS: Audit and Risk Committee and assisting generally, when requested.

SS: I am currently Vice President of the Club and help coordinate the Upwey High School Program that has enjoyed a 20-year partnership with Woolamai.

PM: Main responsibilities outside of patrolling and competition were various administration positions including President.

What do you most enjoy about lifesaving?

TS: Learning the skills and eventual confidence to assist in surf rescue situations, and the opportunities available for young nippers to learn about water safety and ultimately progress to seniors in competitive and administrative areas. Also, the strong camaraderie between so many lifesavers from my own club and elsewhere around Australia.

Stafford Smith on patrol at Woolamai Beach SLSC

SS: So many things!

The people involved. Anyone giving up their time to volunteer to protect the community in an environment that can be so dangerous is a special sort of person. Being surrounded by such amazing people is so motivating.

I also love the surf and summer at Woolamai, I loved competing at carnivals and the Aussies when I was younger, and I love the Woolamai family and the bond we share as lifesavers at a pretty special beach.

PM: Fellowship and guiding young members.

How do you encourage others to get involved with lifesaving and volunteering?

TS: Highlighting the benefits available to young children, and importantly, their parents.

SS: Being a teacher and having the support of Upwey High and the Woolamai SLSC has allowed an amazing surf lifesaving program to provide an avenue for kids in the hills to become surf lifesavers. Every year we have brothers and sisters of older students who have been involved electing to do the program. We now have students whose parents did lifesaving with us now participating, such is the culture and the standing the lifesaving program holds. Over the past few years several of our parents have seen their children go through the program and have joined the club. This has been developing for 20 years.

At school we have a huge supporting group of teachers and parents who are part of the program and are members at Woolamai. Being active patrolling members and being involved in the club is a major influence in keeping lifesaving an important and highly regarded thing to do if you go to Upwey High.

PM: I believe the duties of lifesaving develop responsibility especially in the area of leadership and enhances development qualities for the future.

What is your greatest achievement in lifesaving so far?

TS: Lifesaving Victoria Superintendent of Victorian Nippers (1987-1991), Life Member of Lifesaving Victoria and Torquay SLSC, Citation of Merit from World Lifesaving (1993), Captain of Victorian Team to New Zealand (1980) and U.S.A. (1987), Winner of the Rescue Tube Race at the World Masters Lifesaving Titles (Lorne, 2006).

SS: Every year since 1983, training, encouraging and supporting so many kids on their lifesaving journey.

PM: Life membership of my club, competition success and an outstanding life saving record on our dangerous beach.

When you’re not lifesaving, what keeps you busy?

TS: Swimming  and golf.

SS: I am a semi-retired physical education teacher. I have been teaching at Upwey High since 1982 and continue today as its camps coordinator. So I get to do all the fun stuff and organise or help organise and go on all Upwey’s camps.

I also have six grandchildren, so they have also become a big feature of my life.

PM: Volunteering and assisting several organisations within the Borough of Queenscliff/Point Lonsdale.

What was the best advice you were ever given and who gave it to you?

TS: Set realistic goals, never give up, and plan ahead properly. This advice was given by my mother and has been vitally important in my swimming, surf lifesaving and business careers.

SS: I was always encouraged to ‘give everything a go‘ by my parents. It was more support and encouragement than advice.

PM: A former club captain who introduced me to surf lifesaving and educated us in the importance of studying the beaches for rips, currents etc. and the safest area to set up the patrol.  I have passed on this very important aspect to many new members over the years, especially my own children.

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