FOUR heart attacks, 50 years of service and no sign of slowing down for Lorne’s decorated Surf Life Saving member Neil Morarty.
The Lorne and Apollo Bay life member was awarded for his 50s years of officiating service at a small ceremony in Queensland last week during the Australian Championships.
Despite previous health concerns, Mr Morarty continues to be a qualified life saver and a member of the appeals and building committees.
“It has been a journey of love really, I have enjoyed every minute I have been involved,” he said.
After completing his bronze medallion in 1964, Mr Morarty went on to become the president of the Lorne Surf Life Saving Club for a period of three years and a life member of Victoria and Australia.
“I was asked to join at 20 with a bunch of young blokes I grew up with in Coburg and we trained at the back of a supermarket to do our bronze,” he said.
“It has been a labour of love and now my children and grandchildren are all involved in life saving.
“I hope I passed down the passions, my grandchildren are loving what they are doing and I get to go along and watch them.”
After being presented his award, Mr Morarty said he received kind messages from the kids he had been involved with over his 50 years, which he says has been the best part of his role.
“I like to give back what I have been so grateful for over the years by helping the young ones out,” he said.
“It is a great movement; a great community service and I am very proud to be a member and still be involved today.”
During his time Mr Morarty said he has witnessed a number of changes including the introduction of jet skis, helicopters and drones to the patrol team.
“We are going further and further forward with technology,” he said. “It is evolving very quickly but the basis is still to learn first aid, CPR and teaching people to enjoy the water.
“Kids often come down to Lorne and it is a big experience to be suddenly in the ocean rather than a pool and we get their confidence up so they can enjoy a love of the water like we do.
“It is a feeling you can’t describe if you’re in it.
“It has been wonderful and I am still swimming daily.”
While Mr Morarty said it may be his last year as a fully qualified life saver but he will remain part of the club where he can.
“I love what we do and being involved at a level with the kids it is very rewarding to see their achievements and watching them become better life savers,” he said.