Colin Hassell re-elected as RLSSWA President

3 December 2019

We’re pleased to announce that Colin Hassell was recently re-elected as the President of the Royal Life Saving WA Board of Directors for a further two-year term. Mr Hassell has been a member of our Board since 1999, and President since late 2017, but his contribution to the aquatics industry began long before that.

More than 50 years ago Colin, as a would-be swimmer, was told he wouldn’t ever be a champion in the pool, but maybe he should look towards Royal Life Saving Society. It was advice that has seen him make a huge impact on thousands of people. Colin says “I got very passionate about teaching children how to swim from a very young age. To impart the fun and enjoyment that I got out of water but recognizing there’s also a safety element there. I wanted children to be water wise and water safe as soon as possible.”

That passion came from a spate of drownings in his home town of Guildford, Surrey in the UK. “Drowning was going through the roof and as a group of people we were saying we can do something about this. So Royal Life Saving Society in the UK then formed a branch that looked at inland waterways; in particular rivers and open water space, and started patrolling those as volunteer lifeguards. That’s how I really got involved.”

After moving to Australia Colin became a well-respected member of the WA Aquatics Industry. His focus is simple; “I want to help reduce the number of toddler drownings, that’s my number one passion. Back in 1979 I formed an organization to look after children who have disabilities, and many of those were a result of near drowning, as is the case now, for every one that drowns there’s three that end up being unwell for the rest of their life. That’s why I’m so passionate about trying to reduce drowning, because the tragedy of losing a child is one thing, but the aftermath of somebody who had a near-drowning is quite significant for the rest of their life.”

Colin says that the Keep Watch message is crucial; “There can be no substitute for supervision. You can put as many barriers in the way as you like but children being children they will find a way. And I would really advocate for all parents, even before you become a parent, to understand not only resuscitation but also lifesaving. I can’t imagine the impact losing a child would have on family and friends, so learn those basic skills and make sure you know where your child is.”