At almost 90 years old the only thing that put a halt to Reg Woods’ 70 year surf life saving passion was the folding of his local club last year — and maybe a dodgy knee.
The Sussex Inlet local started with the Avalon Beach Surf Life Saving club in 1944 at age 18, gaining his Bronze medallion and later, Life Membership.
He went on to join the South Coast Branch, Sussex Inlet Surf Life Saving Club and Surf Life Saving NSW, awarding him four Life Memberships.
Mr Woods said growing up in the inner west Sydney suburb of Abbotsford, he used to catch a tram and a bus to get to his morning patrols.
“It was a hell of a trip and we used to have to leave at 7am just to get to the beach by 9am to be on patrol,” he said.
“Sometimes I’d sleep at the clubhouse so I could be there ready for the next day.
“In our day we were real larrikins and we really enjoyed it.”
Mr Woods joined the Avalon Surf Life Saving Club after they were struggling with member numbers.
“Way back in 1944 everybody was at the war so they only had one member,” he said.
“The association got in touch with the Police Boys Club and we used to go to Woolloomooloo Police Boys Club so that’s how we got started.”
Mr Woods has received 48 awards over his 70 years of Surf Life Saving, including taking out the Police Boys Club Championships in 1944.
“In our day we were real larrikins and we really enjoyed it.-Reg Woods
He was also crowned the winner of the Open State Championships in 1945.
While he’s proud of the many Surf Life Saving awards he’s received, Mr Woods said he’s most enjoyed teaching his young students.
“I love instructing, particularly resuscitation because I feel it’s really something everyone should know,” he said.
“Many years back I was talking to a mob of kids and they looked at me and I thought ‘they just hadn’t got a clue what I’m talking about.”
“But on the next Monday apparently the teacher tried to teach them resuscitation and they said ‘that’s not right, that’s not how Mr Woods does it.’
“You can see it in their eyes when they understand it.”
After originally spending his holidays in Sussex Inlet with friends in the Avalon Surf Life Saving Club, Mr Woods moved there 30 years ago and he doesn’t plan on going anywhere.
“It’s the perfect God’s waiting room,” he laughed.
Mr Woods family will gather soon to celebrate his birthday on Thursday, April 21.
“It’s the same date as the Queen’s birthday of course.”