Back in the Day!
Croyde Surf Lifesaving Club has been active since the 1950’s, when it was running under the banner of the North Devon Surf Lifesaving Club. Around ’69/’70 the club split into two groups and the Croyde slsc and the Woolacombe SLSC were formed. It was a natural progression, especially as each village had its own school and community, and a different beach. During the early days, amongst the club’s key members were Tony King and John Howard. Later, Bruce Palmer (who went on to be a top surfboard shaper in Devon and Australia) and Rod Smith (who later moved to OZ and competed further in surf lifesaving sport there), joined the team. As a representative of the club and member of the Surf Lifesaving Association, Tony King travelled as far as Australia and South Africa to take part in international Surf Ski Race series.
In those exciting, early days of surf lifesaving in the north Devon area, Croyde ranked high on the Senior and Junior competition circuit, hosting many national events. Back then, the owner of the beach at the time, Colonel Incledon Webber – donated an area in the centre of the sand dunes to the right of the Crydda stream, and a building was erected for club use. For approximately twenty years Croyde operated from this building, until the 80’s, when the new owner of the beach pulled it down as it was becoming unsafe. The sand dunes have always been extremely mobile and any structures are under threat from subsidence. During the same time the Beach Club Bar, which had been the surf lifesaving club’s social centre, was converted into holiday apartments, which was a ’ double blow ’ to the club. However, like the ’phoenix from the flames’, a new Nipper section of the Croyde club slowly grew and there was, once again, a need for a club facility. The committee found new premises at “Sandleigh” owned by the National Trust, and this building is still leased to us.
The Nineties and the New Millenium
Over the next ten years or so, the Club has grown tremendously, with a large group of Nippers, Juniors and Seniors enjoying the benefits of being involved in a friendly, active club. As for our future, the last few years has seen many of our members gain awards at all levels of surf lifesaving, with several of those early nippers now becoming professional Lifeguards. This traditional link between clubs who are operating under the SLS (GB) charity status, preparing and training lifesavers for jobs within the professional and commercial world, clearly illustrates that Croyde Surf Lifesaving Club’s role within the community is very important. We have also seen a rise in the numbers of members taking part in competitions on a local and national level than ever before which encourages team spirit and raises our profile. As part of our on-going future plans, and the real need for greater safety cover on the beach – especially with the massive growth in water sports – we are in further negotiations with the National Trust to lease and build a permanent beach-side premises for joint use with the RNLI professional lifeguards and ourselves. To be continued…