History of the club
Whether you are an existing, or potential new member, we trust that this site will be a valuable source of information to you. Located on Mills Beach, 1km north of the Mornington Pier, the club provides a surf lifesaving patrol service at the beach throughout the summer months.
Trained and qualified surf life savers voluntarily run the program as dedicated members of the club.
Mornington Life Saving Club is an integral part of the local community providing a safe beach environment, water safety and surf life saver training. Water Safety is the main focus of MLSC and through our Nipper training program we provide a fun and competitive environment for all our younger members to learn about water safety.
The club’s youth group provides a controlled social outlet for teenagers wanting to further their fitness, life saving abilities and competition skills. MLSC also has a very strong and competitive Boaties group, and the Surf Boats make a very impressive site powering out from the Clubhouse.
Founded in 1914 the club’s success has always and continues to rely on the voluntary spirit of its members to assist in the running of the club and its activities. Affiliated with Life Saving Victoria, MLSC welcomes new members and encourages existing members to keep active and involved.
Mornington Standard (Frankston, Vic), Saturday, 23 December, 1911
Mornington Swimming and Life Saving Club
A very enthusiastic meeting of the townspeople of Mornington was held at the Mechanics’ Hall on Wednesday evening last, the shire President (Cr Barrett) in the chair. The ladies were very prominent and Miss O. Bieri, a member of the Perseverance Ladies’ Club, London, who has joined, has promised to instruct the ladies.
Dr Somers has generously undertaken to instruct members in restoration, etc., and it was resolved to ask Mr F. Beaurepaire to give his services in the near future. The membership was fixed at 2s 6d per annum for adults, and 1s for under 16 years.
The following committee was formed: - Messrs Barrett, Ford, Ferber, Mouck and Misses Bucher and O. Bieri. Miss Bucher was appointed secretary, and Mr Ford treasurer.
My Life with MLSC – Steve Gagliardi – Life Member
In 1968 I moved to Mornington and in the summer of that year I joined the LSC.
The MLSC was quite a large club at the time, with many adult and junior members. The big attraction for most of us kids at the time was that we could use the paddle boards free of charge. The paddle boards back in those days were very different to the current boards, as they were very heavy and constructed of timber, but were fairly stable and lots of fun to use. Most were stored under the clubhouse and the better ones were stored inside along with the reel and lines which were taken out and set up for potential rescue for each patrol.
It was part of standard procedure to have reel and line set up and beach flags in place for every patrol - if there was an inspection from RLSC inspectors and the set up was not in place we would not receive any funding.
We held monthly meetings at Warwick Picking’s house, Warwick was the president at the time. His home was on the corner of Tallis Drive and Barkly Street. All members would be invited to attend, and had voting rights on all matters. The club house was not suitable at that stage to hold meetings especially during the winter months.
The clubhouse located on Shire Hall beach was small, really just a glorified bathing box but it was elevated fairly high which gave us a reasonable vantage spot to observe activities along the beach there was a small deck area, approx. 1.2 x3.5m, across the front. The building was similar in size to a single car garage and it had change rooms at the rear. There was a very small kitchenette to the side at the rear and we had light and power - no toilet facilities - the showers were constantly blocking up, so we used the nearby public toilets! Across the rear of the clubhouse a stretcher bed was set up for any first aide patients. There were many patients mostly suffering cuts and abrasions from the rocks. It was a very safe swimming beach and not much call for swimming rescues.
As a junior, we would train at the start of the season and then an examiner would come down and we would all be put through our paces to hopefully obtain the Intermediate Star award. Each year after that we would receive a Bar to this award assuming we did the exam of course. Once you became a senior at 16 years of age you would train and be examined for the Bronze Medallion. It was a very tough and rewarding award to receive. There was lots of swimming and simulated rescues to be completed, some whilst we were wearing clothes. There was no boat work done as the IRB had not yet been introduced to lifesaving.
The lifesaving club used to run a learn to swim campaign which was conducted in the water out the front of the clubhouse and on Sunday mornings, most of the life guards, both seniors and juniors would be involved teaching little kids to swim. Over the years thousands of kids from local and afar would attend and when ready they would be tested and given a swim certificate to show they could swim a minimum of 25 yards. If they wished they could also apply to get a certificate for longer distances.
From this learn to swim program many went on to become future life guards and the parents also became members. Unfortunately membership dwindled as we did not have a lot to attract membership, the facilities were minimal to say the best, and the club house was unable to house all members on inclement weather days. So if it was a lousy day there would be times when we struggled to have four members available to man a patrol, often we didn’t.
In 1975 I was elected President of the club, our numbers were down but we continued to operate and maintain patrols. We managed to buy an old army surplus IRB. WOW we thought we were good now and would train to drive the boat and conduct rescues from it. There was no formal training for the use of the IRB so we made up our own techniques. We were now able to extend our patrol area and often managed to struggle to Sunnyside beach just to check on swimmers of course. We would also on occasion take it down as far as Mt Martha beach to check on activities there, and a few years later we sent members to Mt Martha to establish a LSC there, Tony and Barbara Barker, Tony Seals and Graeme Kirkland and a few younger ones whose name escapes me, were the first to establish what became Mt Martha LSC initially using equipment from our club.
In 1976 on a non patrol day I had taken time off from work and went to the clubhouse to meet a few mates, Mike Tobias, Peter Bennett, Mark Martin, and go for a swim. In those days we would swim to a Buoy which was out from the Pier then across to the pier and back to the clubhouse.
On this day we had just returned to the clubhouse and were approached by some young kids who had come around from Mills Beach. They asked if we could go to Mills as there were some swimmers in trouble. We ran up onto the road and ran along the Esplanade to Mills Beach and when there we had some people pointed out to us who were in trouble. It was a typical dangerous day at Mills, big waves and the undertow working at its best.
There was one swimmer in trouble and two others who had grabbed a small blow up dingy and tried to get out to him but had also managed to get themselves into trouble, none of them were strong swimmers.
I asked Mark and Pete to go after the guys in the Dingy and Mike was to come with me to the swimmer. I was first to arrive at the swimmers side and someone who had jumped off a sailing boat and wearing a life jacket had hold of him, but was struggling to stay afloat. When I got there he was relieved and asked me to grab the guy as he could not hold him up any longer. We were being dragged out and under by the undertow. I immediately gave the guy a couple of deep breaths using the Mouth to Mouth technique we had been training for over the past years. With the waves crashing over the top of us I knew we were in trouble. Mike got there and was trying to hold him up as I attempted to get more air into his lungs. It was not going well. Fortunately some people in an old catamaran came along to assist, I reached out as it went past and grabbed the side of the boat but the bit I grabbed snapped off in my hands and so they turned around and came back, we continued to try to get air into his lungs and when the catamaran was beside us we struggled to get him up onto it, he was a very big heavy guy the conditions did not help us, eventually we managed and then headed straight to the beach. I was unable to detect a pulse and he was not breathing.
In the meantime Peter and Mark had managed to get to the other two guys and had returned them to the safety of the beach.
On the beach we continued with mouth to mouth resuscitation and CPR but there was no change in his condition, we continued our efforts until the local ambulance officer, Ernie Gaul arrived. He then checked the guy out and indicated to me that it was over and that the man had died.
It was this incident which prompted us to decide it was time we moved the MLSC to Mills Beach, a few years earlier a young kid had also drowned here when he was on a school excursion.
One of our members, Mark Martin was a builder and so he drew up some plans for what we thought would be a suitable clubhouse and so we started on a finance drive to raise the money required to relocate. It was a slow process we did not have many members to assist raise funds, but we persisted anyway. We slowly raised our bank balance and we were also entitled to receive some Government and RLSC grants to construct a new dwelling.
In 1982 I received a very special honour and was granted Life Membership of Mornington Life Saving Club. I was the first person to be granted this award and felt very humble for receiving it. It has since become a regular award to deserving recipients.
At this stage we had also taken a serious recruitment drive co-opting many of the parents of our “Learn to Swim” kids into being on the committee of our club. The club membership started to grow and a new enthusiasm was felt around the place. There was always a cricket match being played on the beach in front of the clubhouse and a volley ball net had been sourced and games played over it, now members were having fun again and were wanting to be around the club.
We also ran a big raft race day and invited the members of the community to participate, the Mornington Apex club were fantastic and joined in this fun venture and they helped us to raise more funds. I also knew I did not have the knowledge or contacts to drive the construction of the clubhouse. It was also during this time that club house was burnt down, the effort of some moronic person who set fire to it. This was a very sad day for many of us, so many memories now all gone.
We then erected a Tin shed on Mills Beach just adjacent to where the new clubhouse was to be constructed, and we operated our patrols from it.
In 1985 Kevin Cant a past president of Apex Mornington was elected President. Kevin had the contacts and knowhow to drive the construction. We also took our little drawings to Geoff Kaye a local architect and now member of the club. Geoff then started to draw some proper building drawings and from there the ball started rolling and it was not long (yet it seemed like forever) and many meetings with RLSC and Mornington Council before we had a new clubhouse up and standing at Mills Beach.
A few years later, work and other commitments saw me stay away from the club for a few years, yet it always had a part of my heart with it. I would stay in touch with many of the members and call in whenever I had the opportunity.
In 1996 I returned to the club and became involved again and two years later I was once again voted in as President and remained in the chair for a further three years.
We had now become one of the strongest clubs around the Bay competing at carnivals and maintaining all Patrols back at home. Something we had struggled with in earlier days.
The club has come a long way from its early beginnings on Shire Hall beach. I feel a touch of pride in the place and certainly have felt a lot of love for the LSC. It had taken up a lot of my lifetime.
It is a great honour being asked to write and it brings back fond memories!
Mornington Life Saving Club
1a Mills Beach on the Esplanade
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