In 1967, a dinghy capsized after being launched at the river mouth at Ogmore-by-Sea. The dinghy capsized leaving all 5 occupants in the water. Members of the public went to their aid and managed to rescue 4 of the occupants to shore. Sadly, a young girl was swept away in the swollen river and tragically lost her life. The 4 rescued occupants were taken to hospital where a 2-year-old boy sadly succumbed to his injuries.
This tragedy prompted meetings between Glamorgan County Council, residents of Ogmore-by-Sea and Commander Charles Thompson of Atlantic College to arrange lifeguard patrols along the Glamorgan coast.
The first patrol at Ogmore-by-Sea started on 5th August 1967. On Saturday 19th August 1967, Miss Jayne Power and Miss Maurice Bertorelli performed the first rescue at Ogmore.
At a committee meeting on 24th August 1967 it was agreed that the club would be known as The Pen-y-bont Life Saving Club, and it was also agreed on 23rd November 1967 that the club colours would be Black & Orange with Aqua blue being added at a later date.
Commander Thompson was hoping to have 36 trained lifeguards by the next season, he suggested we enter Schools to look for recruits. Pen-y-bont Council were approached and asked to provide safety signs and equipment.
In 1968 Pen-y-bont Council provided the club with their first club house. This was a wooden hut which was sited where the existing club stands today. The hut was split down the middle girls in one half and boys in the other half. The club also provided storage for our limited equipment. One of the most important pieces of equipment was a reel and line, all the lifeguards were trained in its use.
Membership in 1967 was set at 5 shillings which is equivalent to 25p today. The club grew in strength. We had men’s, ladies and junior sections. In August 1968 Pen-y-bont entered its first National Surf Lifesaving championships which was held at St. Ives Cornwall. Pen-y-bont was awarded the Maiden Plate for best newcomer to the competition.
7th June 1969 saw the official opening of our new single-story headquarters which included a lookout tower accessed via a ladder to the roof. The club was provided by Pen-Y-Bont Council and was deemed to be one of the most up to date buildings of its time. In June 1972 we had a first-floor extension added to the building providing much need space for our growing club.
Pen-y-bont was always looking for ways to raise money, one piece of equipment which was on top of the list was an IRB (inshore rescue boat) but the cost was always just out of our reach. Reg Whittle (who had vast experience of building boats) and Anthony Garret volunteered to build an IRB. Reg Whittle was a teacher in Cowbridge Gramma School and obtained permission to use the School to build the boat. Plans the IRB were obtained and modified from Atlantic College. Following training for coxswain and crew the new IRB was put into service at Ogmore-by-Sea in May 1971.
Pen-y-bont continued to grow, providing patrols on weekends and bank holidays. Training was ongoing ensuring volunteer members were kept up to date with the latest lifesaving skills. Including resuscitation techniques, First Aid and Water Safety.
When SLSA Wales launched the Nipper movement children from the age of 7 years were able to join the club and were provided with training with the emphasis on gaining confidence in the sea and enjoying themselves in a safe and controlled environment.
24th May 1992 saw the launch of Pen-y-bont’s Nipper Section, this was seen as a major step forward for the future of the club. Princess Diana launched the Welsh and English SLSA GB Clubs and the Surf Life Saving Nipper Education Programme.
In 1992 Surf Lifesaving were awarded as winners of The Royal Anniversary Trust Challenge, for creating a programme of something of long lasting benefit (Nippers). This was in celebration of Her Majesty’s 40th anniversary of accession to the throne.
Our Nipper aims have always been very simple:
To provide children with a beach safety educational training programme, which will introduce them to the skills that are required to become our beach lifeguard’s of tomorrow.
We also aim to introduce our members to Surf Lifesaving Sporting Skills where they will be required to complete age related competence skills to enable them to compete in Club carnivals and championships if they so wish.
Mark was our first Nipper Officer after being one of our first Junior Members in 1967. He was a very competent lifeguard and competitor and was a school teacher who was well qualified in helping children. He was a great man to be in-charge of the training program as he had the ability to organize anything.
Mark was a mainly supported by Dave and Phil Smith. Mike Jones, Huw David and Gary Bradford who went on to become a Club Captain and Club Chairman.
Bev Yardley and Sian Rosewell – The Pen-y-bont Dynamic Duo.
From fitness to beach and water training, they were the perfect coaches! Once they were in-charge they set a bench mark for anyone who followed. Their classes were so enjoyable; the Nippers just loved their sessions. Both were Welsh and British team members and champions.
Following on from these years we had the “Paul and Tim” years that many remember and were assisted by Jon Nyom who continues to train our younger members to this day.
Mike is really a great Club man who has done everything involving the Club. He was originally a member of Perranporth SLSC Cornwall. He went on to become a Club Captain and is currently our Club Chairman. He has also served our Club for over 50 years.
In his youth, he was both a GB and Welsh team member (specialty paddle board). Mike is long married to our former Chairman’s daughter Shelagh. Proof that the club really is family friendly.
- Stalwart Members (Whom we thank from the early years to the present day)
- Reg & Margaret Whittle
- George Garrett
- Tim Howells
- Paul James
- Tony Garrett
- Dallas Robinson
- Garry Bradford
- Mike Allen (Club Chairman)
- Huw David
- Dai Staples
- Dai Lewis (fondly remembered)
- Peter Lake MBE (for services to Surf Life Saving and the community) our Club President