Surf life saving would not be the sport we know it as today if it had not been for Alan Whelpton. Whelpton was president of Surf Life Saving Australia from 1975 to 2001 retiring to accept the position of president of the International Life Saving Federation having seen his beloved sport grow more than three fold during his term as president.
Whelpton began his life saving career in 1953, when he joined MacMasters Beach Surf Life Saving Club. He quickly became an extremely active member of the club, undertaking many positions including secretary, coach, patrol captain and competitor. In 1976, he was elected president of Surf Life Saving Australia. Under his leadership, Surf Life Saving Australia allowed female members and introduced female competitions, master’s events, iron man competitions, IRB (inshore rescue boats) and the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships, which attract the largest number of competitors of any sport in Australia. This event is now televised and attracts over 5000 competitors and in excess of 50,000 spectators. Other major championships that are now televised nationally include the Australian Surf Life Saving Masters Championships, the Kellogg’s Nutri – Grain Surf League, the Uncle Toby’s Super Series for Iron Men, and the Australian IRB Championships.
Whelpton introduced the Surf Life Saving World Championships in 1981 after forming a team of Australians to organise the event. He was the first secretary general of World Life Saving, which was founded in 1971. He served as chairman of the Surf Life Saving Australia Westpac Helicopters from 1973 to 2001 and in 1992 was honoured with life membership of International Life Saving.
In 1982 Whelpton was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his services to surf life saving and in 2007 this was upgraded to an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).
Inspiration: “To spread Surf Lifesaving and Lifesaving throughout the World”