The early years – Hughie Graham

Hughie Graham first became involved in Life saving at the age of 14 years at the Edithvale Club. Over the next few years he gained Elementary, Proficiency, Bronze Medal, Surf Medal, Award of Merit and finally his Teacher and Instructor Certificates.

He worked with the Edithvale Club until 1929 when he moved to Yallourn to work, due to the lack of work around Edithvale during the Depression.

He helped form a swimming club on the Latrobe River and in 1930/31 was asked to form a Life saving class as instructor. The floods of 1934 washed away Yallourn's first pool. In 1933/34 the class won the Premiership of Victoria for most Awards; in 1935/36 came second to Edithvale, and in 1936/37 won the Premiership again.

Harry Nairn won the highest award, The Freshwater Diploma in 1934/35 and then gained the Saltwater Diploma in 1935/36.

Under Hughie, the club won the Garden Cup for Resuscitation and the Sporting Judge Shield on several occasions.

The club moved first to the pool near the tennis courts – with 2 jetties and a diving tower 100 yards apart – which was used for swimming sports by schools and other club events. It was here that Hughie sent many hours after work teaching the children to swim.

With many changes of club officials, the lifesaving classes continued right through to the building of the new Olympic pool.

Many awards and diplomas were gained by Yallourn people, those that come to mind – Patricia Burke, Otto Ford, Jill Anderson, Jack Carter (who I understand gained special mention for his lifesaving instruction to members of the A.I.F. around Tobruk during the World War II).

Hughie also helped the scouts and guides to gain their swimmer and lifesaver badges.

He spent the best part of 40 years dedicated to teaching and helping the Yallourn population – both junior and senior.

By John Graham