IAN Powell's impact as Port Fairy Surf Lifesaving Club's president will never be forgotten.
The Port Fairy resident dedicated 14 years leading a club 100 metres from his East Beach home.
He informed the club's members of his decision to stand down in his 2020-21 president's report at the AGM on July 14.
Powell joined the club as a teenager in 1956, following on in the footsteps of his father, Joseph Baden Powell, who was a founding member of the Port Fairy Royal Life Saving Club.
Six years before he joined the club, it had reformed and joined Surf Life Saving Australia after going into recess during the Second World War.
Powell often travelled back from Melbourne, where he was studying engineering at Melbourne University and RMIT, to remain an active member.
In that time he was also the club's Lifesaving Victoria delegate and was secretary for a year before the Melbourne-based Shire of Minhamite employee accepted a job with the United Nations.
From 1966 until he retired from his role as a project development officer in 2000, he lived in India, Sudan, Kenya, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines.
On his return to Australia, he and wife Ganga lived in Sydney for a number of years before moving back to his family home on Griffiths Street, where the 81-year-old lives today.
Port Fairy and its surf club have changed since the father-of-three's early days as a member. In the 1940s and '50s, the town was struggling but now it's thriving thanks to tourism.
The lifesaving club was made up of 20 to 30 members back then but now the club's membership is more than 700 and how it operates is completely different.
"In 1951 it was basic then. The club did patrols and that was all. There was a surf boat and it was all very simple and straightforward - now it is complex with heaps of different activities," Powell recalls.
"Training is so different now. In the 1950s basically all you had to do was be able to swim and have some commonsense but now it's very complicated.
"Now the new building at the surf club, the education centre, is essential because we have all the learning that needs to be done.
"Members are sitting in a classroom setting, working on laptops or have to study manuals and understand procedures. It's all very complex and it's more difficult to be trained as a lifesaver than years ago."
While lifesaving and the PFSLC has evolved over the years, the club's most significant changes have come during Powell's leadership.
When he first took on the role of president in 2007, the club was struggling to find a leader. But once Powell started, he put his hand up year after year. He also influenced a number of the current board members to join.
In his time as president, the club's membership has grown exponentially, it has upgraded its facility with the construction of the education centre and expansion of the storage area, and revamped its board structure.
Newly-appointed president Adam McCosh said his predecessor oversaw a significant growth period in the club's history.
"We had significant council projects in development with the biggest of those being the education centre and the upgrade of the facility, which is one of his biggest achievements," he said.
"He was also president during substantial growth in our nippers program. With (coordinator) Nicole (Dwyer) and the help of Ian we've got over 400 nippers, which is certainly the biggest in regional Victoria.
"We would have one of the biggest nipper programs in the state. In addition to that is we have 100 patrolling members, and for a small town that's a good indication of the success of the club."
The former club and patrol captain said the education centre is Powell's lasting legacy to the club.
"It was a significant project to raise capital for and in that room people will now look at the honour boards and they will see Ian's name on there 14 times in succession. It's a huge contribution," he said.
Outgoing vice-president Paul Buchanan worked closely alongside Powell for his 14 years in the role and with the construction of the education centre.
Buchanan admires and respects what Powell has done for the club.
"Ian has been a wonderful administrator and a good communicator," he said.
"(He has) certainly been committed to the club and its development. He comes from a professional background and that experience makes him very good at delegating.
"That said, he always took on the role of dealing with the (Moyne) Shire with gusto. He's very tenacious so when he started the project with me he would continually pester them until it came through with what we were working on."
Powell was also part of the sub-committee responsible for the board's restructure in 2019.
The board of directors was trimmed from 16 members to seven, and sub-committees for lifesaving, development, surf sports and administration were created to lighten the load on the board.
The new structure, which came into effect for the 2019/20 season, allows the board to work on improving the club while the sub-committees help the everyday running of various areas.
Abbie Artis, along with Buchanan and Tania Dalton, was part of the board restructure sub-committee. She said Powell's impact will be felt for years to come.
"Our club is in amazing shape because of him and the great legacy is the shape he leaves the club in," she said.
"We've got a large member database, strong nippers numbers, we're financially sound, have a good club structure with well qualified and diverse board members.
"He leaves the club in a great position and that's the greatest thing you could do for a club."
Artis said Powell had a major influence on her, Adam McCosh and Mick McGoldrick joining the club's board.
"Ian's great skill was recognising the future of the club and really trying to encourage those who could play a role in the future to come on the board," she said.
"The year I joined the board was the same year Adam did and Ian encouraged us. Now Adam is president and I am secretary and there is many more in it because of him.
"He obviously had a vision where the club was going and was trying to identify key people to join him for that journey."
McGoldrick, who received the last president's award of Powell's tenure, said the departing leader would not be forgotten in a hurry.
Powell's commitment to the club isn't ending because he has stepped down.
The dedicated member will be a project officer alongside Buchanan. The pair will work on improvements to the club and its facilities. Powell will also delve into PFSLC's long history.
"It makes me proud and pleased to see the club continuing to go from strength to strength. It has its ups and downs but we get over them and move forward," he said.
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