Colin Hassell

Life Member

It’s been 53 years since Colin Hassell, 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.”

Colin is currently on the board of Royal Life Saving Society WA and 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 really 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.”

The highlight of Colin’s involvement with Royal Life Saving Society WA happened back in 2004. “One of the most exciting events I ever got involved in with was Royal Life’s Swim Across Australia. One of our current board members Mark Gubanyi, who lost a child to a backyard pool drowning, joined us on this trip and we travelled from Geraldton to Sydney. In 44 towns and villages we got out the message of Keep Watch.

Colin says that 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.”

Image of Colin Hassell