Stockton Surf Life Saving Club will welcome some much-needed upgrades this year, thanks to more than $200,000 in state government funding.
The historic club, formed in 1908, is one of 26 across the state that will share in $4 million to be used for upgrades, restorations or construction of club facilities.
Club president Callan Nickerson said the funds would be used to upgrade internal areas of the clubhouse that was built in 1979.
“We’ll upgrade the toilets and change-rooms downstairs as well as the upstairs hallway and flooring,” he said.
“The funding will also mean the creation of an education space we’ll be able to use for training that has a smartboard, a tv, video and conference capabilities.
“We’ll also be able to open up our doors to be used by members of the community if needed.”
Despite increasing in membership numbers from 100 to 500 since its inception, the historic building has remained largely untouched, Mr Nickerson said.
“It was built in the 70’s,” he said.
“They didn’t factor in disability access back then, it’s definitely overdue.
“It’s been in the pipeline for six or seven years.
“It’s been in need of an upgrade and this grant presented the opportunity we were after. We’re very grateful.”
Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce said the grants reflected the growing importance of surf life saving clubs in the community.
“The role of surf life saving clubs in the community is evolving quickly,” he said.
“Our reach now extends well beyond the water.
“During the recent bushfires that devastated much of NSW, thousands of people sought shelter in our clubs and in many areas our clubs became important recovery centres in the weeks following the fires.
“Many clubs are the hub of their communities and our volunteer lifesavers should have access to fit-for-purpose facilities so they can focus on saving lives and supporting their communities in emergencies and times of crisis.”
Upgrades to the Stockton Surf Life Saving Club will be sent to City of Newcastle planning in upcoming weeks, with works expected to begin in September and completed by December.
According to archives, the Stockton Surf Life Saving Club was formed after a series of drowning tragedies during the Christmas holiday period in 1907-1908.
Life saving activities were however in full swing in Stockton in the early 1860’s with a group of men known as ‘The Stockton Rocket Brigade’ devoted to the rescue of seafarers who became shipwrecked trying to enter Newcastle Harbour.