FEDERAL, state and local politicians were all present on a blustery December day at the official unveiling of the Jan Juc Surf Life Saving Club.
They gathered alongside club members, community members and life savers in training to commemorate the end of a 14-year journey from conception to completion.
Club President Aaron Green expressed his pride and relief at the completion of the project, but was quick to remind those present that there was a clear primary purpose.
“We’ve got bronzies present – this is an operating surf life saving club, it’s not here for show, it serves a really important purpose in the community,” he said.
Due to COVID disruption, Mr Green said there was still some work to be done and a financial shortfall to make up.
“Our redevelopment journey is not finished. The structure and building is operational but due to the pandemic we have been forced to cancel all of our annual fundraising events this year,” he said.
“Bare with us, this club will keep on improving and we will be out there rattling the tin.”
In her speech, Senator Sarah Henderson said many clubs in the area required intervention as they were all reaching their end of life.
She also acknowledged how important quality facilities were for surf life saving clubs.
“We understand the job you do and how important it is but you can’t do it unless you have the proper facilities,” she said.
“I’ve seen first-hand what a difference it makes to every single coastal community.”
Senator Henderson did not miss an opportunity to remind Mayor Rose Hodge and MP Darren Cheeseman the federal government had “$20 million in the can” for a swimming pool and that she is “keen to see that project move very quickly forward”.
“You can’t teach kids to swim in the ocean. Aquatic facilities and surf life saving go hand-in-hand,” she said.
Each dignitary acknowledged the impressive fundraising display from the club to secure the funds needed. A casually dressed Mr Cheeseman encouraged other clubs to follow the same approach.
“This project really highlights the importance of partnerships. We have had a strong club that has been able to secure commitments from the federal government, the state government, the shire – but has also been able to raise their own dollars,” he said.
Cr Libby Stapleton, attending her first official opening as mayor, said the club holds a special significance for her.
She told those present she “would traipse across the cliffs from Torquay to Jan Juc to enjoy some of the social benefits the club offered”.
“It holds a strong place in my heart,” she said.