Dignitaries from all sides of politics, including Police Minister and Bellarine MP Lisa Neville, Federal Senator Sarah Henderson, Corangamite MP Libby Coker and Geelong, Queenscliffe and Melbourne Mayors - Stephanie Asher, Ross Ebbels and Sally Capp - participated in a smoking ceremony and official ribbon cutting event on Saturday December 11.
Club president Charlie Pitney told the gathering the new facility marked a new era for the club, in building on its emergency response capacity and in becoming more representative of the broader community.
“It’s going to be a great building for us to train new life savers, to bring in more community organisations to use this facility,” he said. “This is going to be a facility that helps us as a club grow, that helps us to keep the community safe on the beaches.”
Planning to replace to ageing K.D. Allen clubhouse commenced in 2005 with the formation of a building committee. That was followed by an exhaustive search for a potential new site.
The striking two storey facility was funded by all tiers of government, with the State contributing $2.25 million, the Commonwealth $1.25 million and the Borough of Queenscliffe handing over land for the development on a $1 peppercorn lease.
It was designed by leading architects Jackson Clement Burrows and built by local building firm Lyons Constructions.
“It has been a mammoth effort,” said Ms Neville, who played a key role in brokering the land deal.
“For almost 75 years… you’ve been servicing this coastline and it is one of the most dangerous coastlines in the state. You’ve played a really critical role for opening u this coastline to so many Victorians to enjoy.
“And it’s never been so important, this year again we’ve seen record deaths in our waterways – the highest we’ve had in two decades,” she said. “What you do absolutely matters.”
The biggest thank you, however, was to the community which donated a staggering $2.25 million towards the building’s construction.
“To the Point Lonsdale and Queenscliff communities, I have never worked on a campaign where more people gave us money so quickly and in the bank, it has been amazing,” said capital campaign committee chair Kirsten MacLeod.
“They say it takes a village to raise a child and I can tell you it takes a village to give their money to build a beautiful new surf club that hopefully will contribute to raising a lot of children.”
Describing the PLSLSC as the “heart and soul” of the Point Lonsdale community, Senator Henderson said the new facility would build on its legacy of saving lives.
“It is a truly magnificent building and it is here because you serve a very important purpose in our community, principally, you’re all about saving lives.
“Not only are you the heart and soul of this community in so many ways, you have done the most incredible job to keep our beaches safe for locals and for thousands of visitors every year,” she said.