What’s your full name? Paul Fownes
How did you get the nickname of Stretch? My bronze medallion trainer Greg Dovey tagged me with the nickname during Bronze and it stuck.
What’s your current position in the club? Club President
How long have you been President for? 16 years
When did you first join? 1986
So Stretch can you tell us about your lifesaving journey? I was a student at Marist Pagewood when we carried out what they called ‘Activities’ for year 10 students at South Maroubra SLSC. A few friends from my school joined the club shortly after that initial exposure, I joined them a few years after that. I was a pretty decent swimmer in those days, loved the surf, so doing my Bronze with Greg and John Park as my Bronze trainers was fun and pretty straight forward. Just before or after joining South Maroubra I was also accepted into the NSW Police Force where I currently remain. I competed 30 years of Surf Patrols but took up long service to concentrate on making the club as good as it could be.
What positions have you held in the club? Well I just wanted to be a patrolling member but was promoted to Patrol Captain after 4 or 5 years which I enjoyed. Bernie Kelly LM had other plans for me and after 8 or so years I was promoted to Vice Club Captain and then a year or two later Club Captain now known as Director of Lifesaving. I also loved being a Bronze trainer and encourage others to take those positions on, they’re so rewarding.
Any highlights? Absolutely, how much time do you have? In no particular order, the camaraderie, I love the stability compared to other clubs, the many major fundraising events we have been able to deliver including numerous State Titles, Nutri Grain Carnivals etc, the connection with community, great and life long friendships, seeing the club house transform from a 1980’s building in need of repair to something we can build our future on. I’ve enjoyed seeing the club grow in all areas, enjoyed seeing us achieve some financial stability and able to assist all areas of the club. I’ve enjoyed developing relationships with all tiers of government, enjoyed meeting club sponsors and hopefully providing them with a rich return on investment. I enjoy helping out other struggling entities such as the Clontarf Foundation, seeing nippers get access to a rich experience in Surf Awareness whilst their parents enjoy the social aspect of the club and what it has to offer. There so much more and I just believe we are a good working class club with a great future providing we continue to understand where we have come from, appreciate the hard work of what we have today and where we’d like to be at in the next 5 to 10 years.
What does the future hold and any advice to fellow members? We got so many wonderful members, there is something for everyone so please support us in some way! Big thank you to all of our wonderful Life Members many of whom continue to give back to our club after 30, 40, 50+ years of membership. To aspiring future leaders, it was never my intention to be President, things just happened and I found myself in that position. I’d like to think I’ve done my very best without ulterior motives or distraction for the benefit of the broader membership and community. As for how much long, well if the members are satisfied with my service, I’d like to keep the club growing, stable and strong and whilst President deliver on what I believe will be the most important development since our forefathers opened the original club in 1959. I’ve loved the journey so far and look forward to an exciting united future.
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