The South Melbourne Life Saving Club (SMLSC) celebrated its latest milestone with the official opening of its new $7.8 million home on Saturday (2 November).
Port Phillip Council provided $5.6 million and managed the project to replace the ageing 61-year-old former clubhouse. The Victorian Government contributed $2.2 million and $20,000 was provided by the Club.
Mayor Dick Gross thanked the Government and Club for their contributions to this fantastic new community asset. “This cleverly designed building, which meets Life Saving Victoria’s Clubhouse of the Future guidelines, will help club members keep beach-goers safe,” Cr Gross said.
“We’re delighted that as a Clubhouse of the Future, this new fit-for-purpose space will allow the Club to expand its membership, including its popular Nippers program.”
Residents will benefit by being able to enjoy the community spaces, including a multi-purpose room, kiosk, accessible public toilets, new decks, improved bike path and an all-abilities access ramp to the sand.
While the Clubhouse is a modern 5-star rated facility, incorporating strong sustainability features, the key role played by the late Aileen Kennedy in the Club’s long history has not been forgotten.
Following the tragic drowning of two children on the foreshore in 1944, the Port Phillip resident, affectionately known as Mac, was approached by the then South Melbourne Council to reform the SMLSC.
Aileen, who served as club secretary from 1944 until her death in 1980, was a driving force behind its revitalisation. While the new building will be known as the SMLSC for emergency services purposes, it has been named the Aileen “Mac” Kennedy Pavilion to honour her years of dedicated service.
SMLSC President Dinah Boswell said: “The money invested in the building by the City of Port Phillip and the State Government will assist the club to provide excellence in water safety and aquatic education at our beach. We are also very excited for the building to be named in memory of our life member and stalwart in the lifesaving community, the late Aileen (Mac) Kennedy.”
The SMLSC has about 400 members – with nearly 150 of them in the junior program for under 15s. The Clubhouse started off as a tin shed located further along Beaconsfield Parade. The distinctive former building, named after South Melbourne Foreshore Committee member William Crawford, was built at the current site before being demolished when it was no longer fit-for-purpose.