Bakers Hill resident Colin Hassell has been appointed President of the Royal Life Saving Society Western Australia for a two-year term.
Mr Hassell’s passion for lifesaving came after a spate of drownings in his hometown of Guildford, in the UK.
“Drowning was going through the roof and as a group of people we were saying we can do something about this,” he said.
“Royal Life Saving Society in the UK then formed a branch that looked at inland waterways – in particular, rivers and open-water space – and started patrolling those as volunteer lifeguards.”
Mr Hassell said within the role he wants to focus on teaching children how to swim from a very young age.
“I want children to be water wise and water safe as soon as possible,” he said.
“I want to help reduce the number of toddler drownings; that’s my number one passion.
“Back in 1979, I formed an organisation to look after children who have disabilities, and many of those were a result of non fatal drownings.
“That’s really why I’m so passionate about trying to reduce drowning: because the tragedy of losing a child is one thing, but the aftermath of somebody who had a non fatal drowning is quite significant for the rest of their life.”
Mr Hassell has been a long serving member of Royal Life Saving Board of Directors and is a member of the WA Aquatics Industry.
He said the Keep Watch message that Royal Life Saving WA promotes is crucial.
“There can be no substitute for supervision,” he said.
“You can put as many barriers in the way as you like but young children, being children, they will find a way.
“I would really advocate for all parents, even before you become a parent, to understand not only resuscitation but also lifesaving.
“I can’t imagine the impact losing a child would have on family and friends, so learn those basic skills and make sure you know where your child is.”
Mr Hassell and his fellow directors will be guiding Royal Life Saving toward the achievement of its 2020 Strategic Plan, driving innovation and seeking positive change.
“It is a privilege to lead the Royal Life Saving Society on behalf of all our Members,” Mr Hassell said.
“We are such a diverse network of volunteers, community trainers and supporters.
“Most importantly we are an inclusive society, committed to the ideal that everyone can be a lifesaver and we welcome others to join us”.
Royal Life Saving WA said they were delighted to appoint Mr Hassell to the position.