ROSS Trease is the ultimate quiet achiever, so he was "very humbled" to be made a life member of Ballina Jet Boat Surf Rescue.
The presentation was made last week at the official opening of the organisation's newly renovated building.
Far North Coast Surf Life Saving branch president Wilson Cregan said Mr Trease had been involved in "countless rescues in dangerous conditions" since joining the Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club.
"Ross was also instrumental in designing the new boat ... it is a magnificent boat," Mr Cregan said. "It is something that is now essential to surf life saving."
The rescue service was started by the Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club in 1971 and became an independent operation 10 years ago.
Mr Trease was the group's senior vice- president from 2002-11.
After accepting his life membership, he told the crowd that when he first joined the surf life saving club, he couldn't even swim.
"When I was doing my bronze medallion, Elton (Cummings) would shove me in one end of the pool and drag me out at the other end," he said.
"I am very humbled to be presented with this, especially when there are so many other people out there who have put in hard work."
The Ballina Jet Boat Surf Rescue volunteers also celebrated the completion of the building renovations, made possible with funding from the State Government, Surf Life Saving and Ballina Shire Council.
President Gary Murphy said the work included a new roof, new walkway to the pontoon, winches, automatic roller doors, a new hot water system, stainless steel fittings and new wiring.
"It had always been a hassle to open everything up and get organised," he said.
"But it's such a dream now; it's so easy.
"We have a 10-15 minute response time, which is just phenomenal."
Mr Murphy said the work cost about $50,000.
However, he said tradespeople in the Ballina Shire had been extremely generous in donating their labour for the project.