Beverly Webster – “A small cog” making a big difference.Wednesday, 28 July 2021
28th July 2021
Beverly Webster – “A small cog” making a big difference.
Like many Surf Livesaving volunteers, Beverly Webster’s journey with the organisation started with her family.
“My daughter and son-in-law wanted their kids to be active and learn about water safety, so they joined Muriwai Volunteer Lifeguard Service. And since there were three kids, we needed three sets of hands, so I got more involved too,” she laughs.
Beverly soon fell in love with the organisation’s kaupapa to keep Kiwis safe in the water and develop important life skills in young people. She’s been an active volunteer of Muriwai Volunteer Lifeguard Service for more than five years.
She is particularly fond of the Junior Surf program, or Nippers, as they are also known by because she loves seeing the holistic effect it has on young people, including her three grandchildren aged 8, 12 and 14.
“It’s lovely to watch these children grow into strong, courageous adults with a good grasp of water safety. Not only are they improving their ocean swimming skills, but they are also learning how to work in a team, under pressure, and giving back to the community.”
Her favourite moment so far was watching a young Nipper carry on despite hurting herself during one of the under-12 team events. “I was just so impressed with how she got back up and carried on so her team could finish. And even though she came in last, everyone else was so supportive of her.”
Beverly says developing these “critical skills” from a young age is so important for shaping good character. These values are what young Nippers like her eldest grandson, Drew, soak up and practice in their daily lives.
“The other day Drew, who has just completed the Nippers program, was talking to his friend about Surf Life Saving. Immediately, his friend said, ‘I want to do what you’re doing’ even though he can’t swim. Now Drew is determined to pass on his knowledge and teach his friend how to swim.”
Beverly herself is a strong advocate for water safety and believes it’s an essential life skill for Kiwis to learn – especially since we live in a country surrounded by water. She says she was fortunate to have her father, who equipped her with strong swimming skills from a young age.
“My father used to take us down to the river for swimming lessons. He was a schoolteacher, and he once taught the whole school to swim! But these days, too many children leave school without having basic swimming skills or understanding water safety. I’ve seen some terrible incidents where people are out on boats, drinking with no life jackets on.”
Beverly now enjoys giving back by volunteering with SLSNZ. From working the barbie on club day to mending and washing competition beanies after carnivals, she’s become Muriwai Junior Surf’s “Granny” too.
“We’re like a big family here. Everyone has a different personality, but I’ve enjoyed watching the members grow and mature together, much like a family does. We’ve had some naughty teens before, but the adults always handle it with love, and you can see their (the teens) behaviour improve over time.”
Perhaps her biggest contribution is supporting her daughter and son-in-law as a family, allowing them to volunteer as a manager and coach, respectively.
“We’re pretty lucky to have her,” says her daughter, Evelyn. “Having her around allows us to give more of our time and effort to the club.”
Praising her mother’s efforts, Evelyn speaks about Beverly’s passion for the organisation. “When she believes in something, she really throws herself into it and goes all out to help. She’s instilled the values of giving back in all of us and we value her immensely.”
However, Beverly remains humble about her contributions, claiming she’s “just a small cog in a big wheel of people who have made sacrifices for the club.”
Her constant encouragement and support towards the club shows that giving back doesn’t have to be grandiose to be meaningful. “I’m not a sportswoman, I just enjoy watching people grow and being there for them.”
“As long as I can make life easier for the people running the show, I’m happy. After all, that’s how a successful community works, right?” she chuckles.