Farewell to a Surf Lifesaving pioneer.

In loving memory of Newton “Neddy” Sisam.

Neddy (as he was known) was one of the founding members of the Alpha Surf Lifesaving Club at Bluewaters Strandfontien back in 1961.

His loyalty to the club, as well as his commitment to safety along the False Bay coastline remained steadfast to the end.

Our condolences to the Sisam family on the passing of Mr. Sisam, and to the members, ex members and friends of the Alpha Surf Lifesaving Club as well. He was a true pioneer in the field of Surf Lifesaving.

 

I got to meet Neddy in the early 1980’s after I was introduced to the life saving club. That was in the apartheid era when we were labeled  “non-white” by the regime at the time. Our sport, along with everything else, was not given the due recognition which it deserved. As a result of the apartheid regime limiting our beach going to the most treacherous sections of our coastline, Mr. Sisam and other like minded individuals recognized the need for aquatic, beach and surf safety.

They gathered their own equipment by raising donations and support from those who could afford to share.

Mrs. Sisam holding the original club flag.

That was how the Alpha Surf Lifesaving Club was born, and the members managed to make a significant impact as far as beach and surf related incidents were concerned. The drowning rate decreased under their watch.

The early days. Vigilance and discipline was a feature back then already. Here the team is at work during a “reel alarm”.

He maintained his commitment to the club over the years, and his sons Bevan and Francios followed suite in his quest to serve the various communities, as well as those who ventured down to the False Bay coast at Bluewaters.

Mr. Sisam was a very good swimmer and a paddle skier as well, and back then he was one of only two qualified Surf Lifesaving examiners in the Western Cape.

As new recruits to the club, we got to hear about Neddy and his strict manner of examining the Bronze Award Proficiency qualification. We were led to believe that if we did not apply maximum effort, we would not make the grade and pass the test with Neddy at the helm. Especially at CPR and torpedo bouy rescue.

Neddy presenting a certificate of recognition to one of the lifesavers.

I remember him teaching us various skills relating to swimming near rocks, negotiating rip currents, reelwork, mass rescues and my favourite, the single ski.

Neddy was also a mountain man, and the memories of his hikes on Table Mountain where he would lead the lifesaving club members on a full day out in nature, will always be cherished.

He taught me loads of mountaineering skills over time, including orienteering and map reading; how to bivouac; and many other tips and lessons too. Not to mention safety.

It was Neddy who encouraged me to purchase my first hiking map of Table Mountain and my first hiking book of Table Mountain in the late 1980s. (I still have them)

Here he showed and introduced me to many a cave, landmark and “mountain secret” on Table Mountain. I remember the day he took Bevan, Francios and I to Rendevous Cave and showed us the old cable station at the summit of Kasteelspoort. The three of them also introduced us to the Swellendam Trail, where we spent seven days in the wilderness while enjoying the full route. Vicky and Arthur Major accompanied us on that occasion as well.

In his twilight years Neddy did get to receive his full honours and recognition when he was acknowledged by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport for his lifetime commitment to social safety and upliftment.

 

Sport legends: The Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport presents this scroll to Newton “Neddy” Sisam in recognition of the unselfish contribution that you have made in shaping sport in the Western Cape, and in acknowledgement of the fact that sport and community activists of your ilk have been the driving force behind the development and growth of sport through the years.
Armed with passion, determination and an unflinching devotion to serving others, you have achieved what was once deemed to be an impossible goal – a united non racial sporting community.
We salute you!
Western Cape Government.

The humour and caring nature of Newton “Neddy” Sisam will be sorely missed.

May he Rest In Peace.

Michael Wilcox

 

 

 

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