Saving lives at top surf spots

LIKE many living on the coast, Andy Cross took up surfing as a little tacker.

And like many surfers who build up years of surf knowledge, he bypassed joining a local surf life saving club around his home at Narrabeen on Sydney's Northern Beaches - until his kids joined Nippers that is.

SURF MARATHON: Andy Cross has been surfing at each of the 129 NSW beaches that have surf lifesaving clubs this year.
SURF MARATHON: Andy Cross has been surfing at each of the 129 NSW beaches that have surf lifesaving clubs this year. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

The self-employed plumber and DHL Australian Surf Life Saving Volunteer of the Year has been taking time off work since February to visit and surf the 129 beaches in NSW that have surf lifesaving clubs to promote the iconic Australian organisation and encourage more people to complete the bronze and gold medallions.

He was at Ballina's Lighthouse Beach yesterday - the 108th beach he has visited - and flew back to Sydney so he could be on patrol at South Narrabeen where he is the surf life saving club's chief instructor, today.

He will surf South Narrabeen - the 129th beach - on December 27.

His aim is to encourage more people - but particularly surfers - to join the patrolling ranks to save lives.

The 53-year-old became a patrolling lifesaver in 1992.

He said it was then he became aware of exactly how much surf knowledge and skills he had gleaned over almost a lifetime in the water.

He acknowledged there has been a divide between surfers and lifesavers.

But his message to surfers is that surf life saving is "a wonderful way to give back to the community".

He also used his surfing tour to promote the Surfing NSW 24/7 Surfers Rescue course, a free CPR and board rescue course for surfers in NSW, although it isn't runlocally.

Bronze medallion course

The Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club is currently running a bronze medallion course, and will hold an information night on January 14.


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