by Jeni Bone
Melbourne resident and familiar face around the waterways of Melbourne, Frankston, Port Phillip and Rosebud, as well as the local boat show circuit, Peter Swan has been honoured for his 50 years' service to the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association.
50 year veteran of volunteering, training and rescue.
At 84, Peter has been recognized for being the longest serving member of te AVCGA and is still actively teaching navigation courses, clocking up a massive 50 years, from being a foundation member when the organization formed in Australia.
The Mayor, Councillors and residents of Frankston City sent their thanks and congratulations to Peter recently for his 50 years’ dedication and continuous service, expressing their admiration for his contribution to his community.
Peter joined Coast Guard in August, 1961 as a foundation member and has served the organisation continuously to date and has every intention of continuing that service into the future.
He is the longest serving active member of Coast Guard, which is no small achievement. According to his son and daughter, Peter wears this distinction both with honour and humility as he does not seek recognition and is often uncomfortable when his service and dedication are recognised in the public forum.
Peter has always been interested in boating and had built three timber boats by 1960. He was a member of the Beaumaris Motor Yacht Squadron, from which the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard, as it is known today, was originally formulated by some members and borne to fruition.
Peter was originally appointed to Flotilla One, where he still remains and continues the tradition of a very long, constructive and worthwhile volunteer career.
After progressing through the Coast Guard training system to achieve the rating of Leading Coxswain in 1984 which involved all aspects of boat handling and skippering, Peter continued with his Duty Skipper rostered duties until he 'retired' from these at the age of 80.
During this time, Peter was instrumental in numerous rescues, saving of lives, training new crew members and continuous education for the public in boating safety, not to mention the other time consuming, yet essential tasks of fund raising, building maintenance and all other activities related to the successful running of the Flotilla.
He was also an active member of the Search and Rescue Division until he 'retired' from active participation at the age of 75.
Peter was elected as Flotilla Commander in 1982 where he served two very successful terms and was then granted Substantive Rank of Commander, a very highly regarded honour bestowed by the National Board of the AVCGA.
In 1987 Peter was granted Life Membership, again by the National Board, one of the highest honours for any member to aspire to.
Peter continued his training and marine education to attain his Marine Board Coxswain in 1991.
As well as Peter’s 'on water' activities, he has been extremely proactive in the education side of the organisation. He wrote and became a Leading Instructor in the Coastal Navigation Course for Coast Guard in 1992 and was also appointed Instructor and Examiner by the Australian Yachting Federation in the AYF Powerboat Scheme in 1992.
In recognition of Peter’s service to the community through the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association, he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 1995.
At the same period Peter became very involved at Squadron level, being appointed Vice Captain New Members and Cadets and was particularly involved in providing for the Victoria Youth Development Program Cadet Flotillas at Brighton and Wodonga.
Following his 'retirement' from active boat duties, Peter has continued to gain educational qualifications to enable him to continue delivering Training Courses to both Coast Guard members and the general public.
Peter attained Workplace Trainer Category 1 under the authority of the State Training Board in October 2000. This was followed by Certificate IV in Assessing and Workplace Training. He also co-wrote and became a lecturer in the Coast Guard GPS Operation Course.
In 2002 Peter was awarded the National Medal. This Medal is bestowed by the Governor General of Australia and recognises long and diligent service by members of recognised organisations that help the community in times of crisis.
Peter has received numerous Coast Guard certificates and awards in recognition of his continuing service, educational and training activities within the organisation.
Peter was awarded his 50 Year Long Service Ribbon by the National Commodore in 2011. Needless to say, he is the only member of the AVCGA to be awarded this service ribbon.
He also recently was awarded a Local Hero Star at the Karingal Star Zone for his Coast Guard activities at Frankston.
Peter continues to serve Coast Guard, not only in the area of CBT Training Courses for members wanting to gain their ratings, but with both Coastal Navigation Courses (of which he delivered his 50th course last April) and GPS Operation Courses for both members and the public. He also continues to contribute to the building maintenance at Frankston, assists with fund raising for the Flotilla and assists and officiates where required on behalf of the Victorian Squadron
Peter also maintained his building business, in a full time capacity, and partnership with his brother until he retired some 20 years ago. He also spent 9 years on the School Committee, 5 of which he was Chairman, several years as Team Manager for both his sons under 15’s & 17’s football teams and has recently served a term as Vice President of Rosebud Men’s Probus and has been nominated for President of the Club.
Peter is held in very high esteem by his peers, friends and associates within the organisation. He is truly a gentleman and nothing is too much trouble to undertake. He is always willing to help in any way he can.
Peter has had the support of his family throughout his Coast Guard career. His first wife Val (who passed away in 1992) and his second wife Eve (who passed away in 2005), were very proud and supportive of his Coast Guard activities. Peter’s four grown children are incredibly proud of their father and supportive of his continuing desire to serve the AVCGA.