Neville Warwick exudes a quiet satisfaction. This iconic Mylestom man is content- life has afforded him “all I could have wanted,” says Neville. With his wife Thelma by his side for the past 67 years, Neville has embraced a life rich in family and community engagement. And looming large in that equation is Neville’s 66 year relationship with Mylestom (nee North Beach) Surf Living Saving Club.
Neville was one of the eleven founding members of the Surf Life Saving Club in 1952. “Dad was the first president” says Neville. Since that time Neville has continued to donate his time and energy to the club. “I had to resign from patrol duties a few years ago due to my crook hip and knee. These days I’m more use at the BBQ,” says Neville.
Neville grew up in Inverell where his family kept bees. “Winters in Inverell were cold- the bees weren’t keen on the frost.” In 1949 a nineteen year old Neville and his father brought the hives down to Repton- farming the hives out around farms in the region over the cold winter months. This was Neville’s first taste of the ocean. The following year they repeated the exercise and encountered “the great floods of 1950. We were camped in Mylestom when a young Thelma popped her head in the tent.” This chance meeting coupled with the floor falling out of Australia’s honey export industry was to seal Neville’s fate.
Neville and Thelma married in 1951 and moved into their home in River Street Mylestom, where they still live today.
Life in Mylestom was quiet and friendly, “a great place to raise a family. Fifty years ago River Street was a dirt track. Only 2 people in the region owned cars, so our four kids and their friends could play cricket all day in the middle of the road,” says Neville. Neville managed to secure a job at Bellingen Shire Council, where he continued to work for the next 47 years. “I loved my job- it was a great bunch of people,” says Neville.
But it is Neville’s association with the Surf Life Saving Club that really looms large in Neville’s tale. He has worked for the club in every possible capacity. “I’ve rowed the surf boats and was sweep for years. I’ve instructed and acted as the examiner at surf carnivals. For years I ran the nippers while Thelma ran the mermaids,” says Neville.
Neville waxes lyrically about his days competing for the Club. “Back in the day we travelled all year to surf carnivals, from Queensland to the south coast of NSW. I would compete in the beach and boat events- we all loved it.” When asked if he was fiercely competitive, Neville responds “you bet.”
Neville’s trophy cabinet can attest to that. I do notice trophies for tennis, cricket and fishing also adorn the shelves. “He did it all,” says Thelma.
After 66 years I can imagine Neville has seen a lot of change at his beloved Surf Club. “I reckon I’ve seen at least 400- 500 people come through the Club. Change is good though- we have to move with the times,” says Neville. He does lament the lack of Surf Carnivals these days, but was chuffed that Mylestom hosted the first Surf Carnival for years only last year- which was a huge success.
Neville and Thelma now have 12 grandchildren and 31 great grandchildren. Photos adorning the family home of this brood playing all manner of sports might suggest the sporting gene runs deep. Thelma and Neville have had the life everyone would wish for. “We are so lucky. A darling family. We couldn’t ask for more,” says Thelma.