In this series, we’ll meet Newport Surf Lifesaving members. We learn what attracts people to volunteering and how membership impacts their lives.
Patrol 7’s James Oxenham has a long history with the ocean. James was involved with Surf Lifesaving at a young age in his native Cornwall and obtained his Bronze Medallion in 1989. He also became the captain of Crantock Surf Life Saving Club, a Cornish beach on the Atlantic coast (below image).
What are the differences between working the beaches in the UK vs Australia?
After 14 years as a professional lifeguard in both the UK and Australia, James identifies the differences in beach management in both countries. The most notable challenge between managing beaches in England compared to Australia is in part due to the big 7-metre tides. This makes locating good sand banks for the flags up and down the beach a challenge. The majority of visiting tourists from the larger cities inland, have little or no experience of surf or surf awareness, making the job of keeping them safe a tough one.
How does the Australian surf compare to England’s?
When asked how the Australian surf compares to England’s, James is quick to point out that “Brighton is not representative of UK beaches! There’s actually quite a bit of decent surf”.
What does Surf Lifesaving mean to you?
James has been a member of Newport Surf Lifesaving for over a decade and acknowledges that this membership has given him much over the years. Between the thrill of competition and mateship through patrolling, surf clubs provide both beneficial physical and mental health.
How does patrolling the beach contribute to your well-being?
It’s important to give back and being at the beach has many positive benefits – “We’re all so busy these days in front of computers, always online – even on weekends. Spending time at the beach with the sand between your toes and a sea breeze, helps you connect with the ocean”.
What are the challenges with volunteering?
A full-time job and two children under the age of 5 (Thomas 4 and Emma 2) brings you back to earth. Spending a quarter of your weekend every few weeks on patrol means a bit more juggling for both James and his wife Natalie.
What’s the next step with Newport Surf Club for you?
Looking forward to the next chapter with the family and enjoying the beach with the little ones.
If you know a Newport member that would be a great candidate for a chat please email [email protected].