The Beaudesert Bronze Squad was coached by Gary Balkin a school teacher at Brooklands State School which was located about 16 kilometres north of Beaudesert. This squad was formed towards the end of the 1959/60 swimming season with 6 members of the Beaudesert Amateur Swimming Club based at St Mary’s swimming pool in Bromelton Road Beaudesert.
Somehow Gary managed to get a reel from Burleigh so this squad could practice drill on reel, line and belt work during the winter months at Hopkins Park adjoining the swimmimg pool. The reel was stored in the pump shed at the pool.
1. Lloyd Winnett (bank johnny)
2. Anthony (Tony) Hawkins (student)
3. Russell Whitmore (student)
4. Ronald Wilson (mechanic)
5. David Allen (student)
6. Peter Allen (student)
These squad members joined BHMP SLSC on Saturday 1st October 1960 – the first summer weekend of patrolled beaches for the 1960/61 season. Our squad instructors at Burleigh Heads were Bill Mc Neil and Lindsay Thomas who were very thankful that Gary had done all the ground work on our resuscitation, physiology, reel, line and belt work during the winter months.
Tony, David, Russy and myself went to Burleigh with Gary on Friday afternoons. Ron Wilson worked on Saturday mornings at Blunck’s Garage and drove to Burleigh in the afternoon. Lloyd Winnett worked at the National Bank. Sometimes he worked late on Fridays and came down to Burleigh on Saturday. However, when he finished early on a Friday the five of us would somehow cram into Gary’s two-door, two tone brown and fawn Triumph Herald and Gary would drive to Beenleigh then down the old Pacific Highway to Labrador, Southport, over Jubilee Bridge to Narrowneck, Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach, Miami, then on to the club house at Burleigh Heads. Up to the 1960 December school holidays we would cram like sardines into Gary’s car on a Friday afternoon and after a few stops to stretch our legs we would eventually arrive at our destination.
From October our squad continued to train at St Mary’s 25metre pool in the mornings before school/work and practice drill in Hopkins Park in the afternoons along with more swimming. We then spent the weekends at Burleigh leading to our Bronze Day which was organized for Saturday 3rd December 1960. Up to this point in time Ron Wilson had failed in all of his attempts to achieve the 400 metre proficiency swim in under 8 minutes.
At Burleigh on 3rd December 1960 our Bronze Examination was delayed while Ron Wilson was taken by our squad instructors and the two branch examiners to Jack Evans Pool at the southern end of the beach to undertake another 400metre swim.
We sat patiently on the rock wall above the beach to await their return. We expected a positive result, however, when they did return we were told that Ron had failed the swim. The five of us were totally devastated when informed by the branch examiners that Ron was ruled ineligible and that today’s Bronze Examination would not proceed.
That appeared to be the end of our great expectations.
However, the season was into its third month and the club was desperate to have additional qualified patrol members on the beach for the forth coming Christmas holidays.
As the branch examiners were about to leave they were collared into discussions with Gary, Bill, Lindsay, Charlie Taylor and Merv Clelland regarding various options to have our squad qualified as soon as possible. An agreed solution was to locate an acceptable replacement for Ron Wilson and at the insistence of these senior club members the branch examiners reluctantly became involved in seeking a replacement. Telephone calls were made to other clubs. The Southport Club provided a member who was proficient and exam ready and who was arriving from Brisbane that afternoon. The branch examiners then rescheduled the Bronze Examination for the next morning.
The bronze squad on Sunday 4th December 1960 at Burleigh Heads was the first bronze medallion squad for BHMP SLSC for the 1960/61 season
1. Lloyd Winnett (junior)
2. Tony Hawkins (cadet)
3. Russell Whitmore (cadet)
4. David Allen (cadet)
5. Peter Allen (junior)
6. Gary Keenan( junior - Southport SLSC)
Somehow after 52 years I have managed to keep my Bronze.
Engraved on the medallion :
· Tony Hawkins, Russell Whitmore and David Allen were cadets and achieved their qualifying certificate at Burleigh Heads on Sunday 4th December 1960.
· Lloyd Winnett and Peter Allen were juniors and gained their bronze medallions at Burleigh Heads on Sunday 4th December 1960
· Gary Keenan of the Southport SLSC gained his bronze medallion at Burleigh Heads on Sunday 4th December 1960
· Bill McNeil and Lindsay Thomas qualified for their instructor’s certificate at Burleigh Heads on Sunday 4th December 1960.
· Ron Wilson did finally achieve his proficiency swim and gained his bronze medallion at Burleigh Heads on Sunday 5th February 1961.
· After turning 16, Russell Whitmore and David Allen gained their bronze medallions at Burleigh Heads on Saturday16th December 1961 during the 1961/ 62 season.
· Tony Hawkins was not a member of BHMP SLSC in the 1961/62 season as he had joined the Navy and headed to Western Australia in October 1961 to be based with the frogmen unit at Fremantle.
Some memorable snapshots:
· Catching a boomer at Burleigh.
· Going for a row with Jimmy.
· Enjoying a beer off the wood in the old courtyard.
· Having a famous Yatala meat pie on the way home on a Sunday afternoon.
· Looking for Gary’s teeth in the surf after one Sunday morning surf race.
· House to house collections.
· Chook raffles.
· Hitching rides to and from Burleigh.
' Beaudesert Boys & instructors'.
LEFT TO RIGHT; BILL McNIEL [INSTRUCTOR], DAVID ALLAN, TONY HAWKINS, LLOYD WINNETT, PETER ALLAN, RUSSELL WHITMORE, LINDSAY THOMAS [INSTRUCTOR]