Leadership course inspires Kariaotahi lifeguard

For Surf Lifesaving Northern Region

Surf Life Saving Kariaotahi lifeguard Guy Hornblow is ready to tackle his leadership role in the surf community after returning from a successful week at the Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) National Leadership College course in Sydney.

Every year Surf Life Saving Northern region (SLSNR) sends one kiwi participant to the intensive training course in early February. Hornblow says he feels extremely privileged to have attended after submitting a written application outlining his lifeguarding experience and future goals as a leader in the organisation. 

“I was so grateful to be given the opportunity to represent SLSNR and my club at the course in Australia. There are plenty of amazing lifeguards in SLSNR so I was humbled and honoured to be successful in applying.”      

Hornblow has patrolled at Kariaotahi beach since he was 14 and is currently a leader for the club’s Emergency Callout Search-and-Rescue Squad. He attended the course with 23 lifeguards from Australia and enjoyed team-building activities with attendees, listening to keynote speakers, and connecting with talented mentors.       

“I had a phenomenal time in Australia and made friends with many people who are so passionate about what we do. The purpose of the course was to better understand your personal strengths while working on your weaknesses to lead and develop teams in any environment.” 

The SLSA National Leadership College course is designed for leaders to develop their personal management style. Following his time at the course, Hornblow says he’s looking forward to working with his club and SLSNR to continue focusing on a people-first approach.

“The course was a great reminder that it is the people which make an organisation successful. It really hit home for me that if you spend time focusing on people, no matter what level they sit, you will foster an environment where people will want to develop, and more importantly, come back each week,” he says.

SLSNR values diversity and offers many opportunities for its member to grow as lifeguards and remain positive contributors to the community. This includes support service programmes and leadership development training courses that CEO Matt Williams says are important given the complex demands made on lifeguards in the current environment.

“As lifeguards continue to engage a number of different skills to support the public, and their own number (other lifeguards) we’ll continue to view the development of leadership qualities, diversity and advanced training as strategic priorities.”

“We’re proud to have had Guy represent us over in Australia and trust that he will support the organisation by implementing the skills he’s developing within his club,” he says.  

After a life growing up around the beach, Hornblow is fully committed to being a lifeguard and agrees that ongoing support is needed for lifeguards at all levels.

“Upskilling is essential to ensuring our newly qualified guards and experienced veterans are at the top of their game to continue as valuable citizens of New Zealand.”        

He says that the lifeguard camaraderie, passion for the community and fact that “no day is ever the same” keeps him keen and delivering for beach-goers every weekend.

“‘In it for Life’ means so much to me, it not only reflects the work we do on the beach in preventing the loss of life, but through to the way we are connected to the organisation for life,” he says.

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