Ron Redman handing over the belt to reelman Charlie Howard, after winning the belt section in junior R and R at Yamba carnival,
Ron Redman handing over the belt to reelman Charlie Howard, after winning the belt section in junior R and R at Yamba carnival,

Redmans in force on the beach


OUTSTANDING Lower Clarence lifesaver Ron Redman followed a strong family tradition, becoming a member of the Yamba Surf Life Saving Club and joining the NSW Police Force.

His grandfather Joshua Redman, long-time sergeant of police at the popular holiday resort, was a foundation member of the Yamba surf club, back in September 1908 and Joshua's sons, Ron's uncle Clarrie Redman and Ron's father, Hunter Redman were prominent surf club members.

It had been an heroic March 1908 surf rescue by Clarrie Redman and his mate Walter Freeman of bather Samuel Dhu that was the major catalyst for the formation of the surf club.

Dhu, one of a just handful of people in the surf at the time was in serious trouble, captured in a rip near Lone Rock at what was then known as Andersons Beach but is now called Main Beach.

Together, Redman and Freeman swam to Dhu's assistance and without the aid of rescue equipment brought the exhausted Dhu safely ashore.

In recognition of their efforts the rescuers each received the NSW Royal Shipwreck Relief and Humane Society Certificate of Merit for their bravery in the dangerous conditions.

The youthful Clarrie Redman became vice-captain with William Black first captain at the club's foundation meeting later that year on September 9, 1908.

Not long after Black resigned from office and Clarrie Redman was made captain and held the position until joining the NSW Police Force in 1913.

He later enlisted in the Australian army and saw action against Germany in The Great War, now called World War One.

Clarrie was wounded at Pozieres in France in 1916 and when sufficiently recovered returned to the front and in May 1917 was promoted in the field to the rank of sergeant.

Tragically, four months later he was killed in action at Ypres in Belgium.

Clarrie Redman's bravery certificate, medals and proud war record are on display at the Yamba Historical Society's Museum.

Clarrie's younger brother, Hunter, also became a foundation member of the Yamba surf club and he too saw overseas action during The Great War, most of it in France.

He was twice wounded in action and because of the seriousness of the second series of wounds, he was honourably discharged.

Hunter Stanley Snow Redman, a farrier by trade, married Jessie Cameron and born to them have been daughters, Jean and Joan and sons Ron and Keith.

Ronald Redman was born in Maclean in 1935 and lived in that township until 12 years of age.

"When Dad died in 1951 we moved to Yamba to live in what was then called The Lane but is now known as Little High Street," Ron said.

"I had attended Maclean Primary School and while at Yamba travelled each week day to Maclean District Rural School, where I gained the Intermediate Certificate.

"At school I played the usual sports such as cricket and football and loved swimming although our only pool was the river baths near the then rowing shed.

"Dad had his blacksmith shop just across the road from the pool and was called on a number of times to act as baths caretaker.

"My first job after finishing school was as a 15-year-old working for the Post Master General's Office in Maclean Post Office where by day I would be telegram boy one week and alternate weeks I would be alone and in charge of the telephone exchange's night operation.

"It was my job to answer each incoming call at night, connect to the number asked for and disconnect when the caller rang off. As it was an all-night job there was a bed in the room next to a big clanging bell which would strike loudly any time there was an incoming call to make sure I was awake.

"There were times when callers talked for a long while and I fell asleep and if I had not disconnected their phone nobody else could call in, in fact every other phone on the Lower Clarence area would be closed down."

As soon as he was 16, the qualifying age those days, Ron joined the Yamba surf club and quickly proved to be a valued patrol member and rescuer, a talented surf competitor and extremely competent in the combined drill and swimming event the rescue and resuscitation (R and R).

In the weekly handicap pointscore surf race he kept on improving and it wasn't long before he was sharing backmarker status with the great Rex Tiger Teece and in 1951-52 season was able to win the big double, the Harrrison Cup for junior swimmers and the R A (Tony) Dougherty Perpetual Cup in the combined senior-junior pointscore.

The R A (Tony) Dougherty trophy had been donated by that popular Grafton businessman and bookmaker in the 1948-1949 season.

It was won first up by another top junior swimmer, John Noonan.

Tiger Teece was also a junior (Under-18) when he won the trophy in 1949-1950 season and yet another young member, Terry (Honk) Munro won in 1950-1951.

When Ron Redman won the cup he knew he would be away on the club presentation day and asked another member to receive it for him.

It was picked up all right but somehow was lost and not handed on to Ron for many years, actually not until 40 years had passed.

With the Tony Dougherty Cup gone missing a replacement trophy had to be found and for the Sunday handicap pointscore swims for the following few seasons it was the George Chalmers Memorial Cup, named in honour of one of the club's great supporters of the 1930s and 1940s.

Another backmarker, Bill Zietsch, won it the first season on offer.

A couple of years later one of the icons of the Yamba club, Carl Schaeffer, came forward to back the handicap swim and that is how the annual Carl Schaeffer Pointscore Trophy came about and has been part of the club's swimming programs for more than half a century.

In the 1951-52 season Ron Redman also won the Far North Coast (FNC) branch junior (Under-18) surf belt race championship.

He was also in Yamba's branch winning four-person junior surf swim team and backed this by joining Ron Phelps, Paul Pyers, Vince Murphy, Terry McGrath and Charlie Howard to be part of the Yamba club's first junior R and R branch championship-winning team.

In a even bigger result that season Ron won his way through the heats and then finished a close third in the final of the 1951-52 state Junior belt championship at Byron Bay to local champion Jack Clark and second-placed Ken Campbell, of Thirroul.

It was in 1952 that Ron joined the NSW police cadets.

Shortly after his Sydney arrival Ron joined the Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club, taken to the beach by Barry Hannon who had been a member of the famous Sydney club before joining Yamba for two seasons, including one as permanent lifesaver (beach inspector).

Ron was warmly welcomed into the Bondi junior surf and R and R teams, coached by Alan May, a brother of Norman May who was a member of the Freshwater Surf Club's R and R team that won the 1952 and 1953 Australian open R and R titles and became a renowned sports broadcaster with the ABC.

With Ron drawing one of the swims, Bondi won the Sydney branch junior R and R championship final and he finished second in the junior championship surf race.

It was while doing surf patrols at Bondi that Ron met and fell in love with Jeannette Rafferty who was to become his wife.

"She was just 17 when we met and the most beautiful girl on the beach," Ron said.

Ron was with the police cadets for two years and then into full uniform and stationed at Darlinghurst.

He remained a member of the Bondi surf club for four years until in 1956 he was transferred in the police force as Constable Redman to West Wyalong.

He and Jeannette had become engaged and she joined him at West Wyalong after their marriage at Saint John's Anglican Church, Glebe, in December 1957.

One of Bondi's and Australia's greatest ever surf swimmers, Brian Hutchings, was best man.

There are five children from the marriage, Shane, Stuart, Colin, Maree and David.

There are now 16 grand kids and one great-grand child, Adara Lee, grand-daughter of Colin and daughter of Krystal and Matthew.

A second great-grandchild is due for Ron and Jeannette in August.

In keeping with family traditions number two son Stuart joined the Cronulla surf club and David was for more than 10 years a detective with NSW police, serving mainly at Kempsey and at Kings Cross.

Naturally there was no surf or surf club at West Wyalong for Ron and after seven years at that town Ron was transferred to Laurieton, where there had been a surf club but at that stage it was defunct.

Ron, together with some ex-members and others keenly interested, resurrected the club and Ron was club captain for seven years.

Jeannette was president of the women's auxiliary and marched as standard bearer in the women's march past team.

The Redmans then went west again with Ron in command of police stations in turn at Temora, Junee and Dubbo and gaining in promotion and in 1985 transferred with the rank of police inspector to Gosford.

Jeannette, besides supporting her growing family in their schoolwork and sport over the years, helped with service groups and charities such as Red Cross in the various centres in which she and the family lived.

There was also her work for the Royal Far West Children's Health Plan.

Wile at Junee She had great delight in coaching youngsters in tap dancing and ballet with her students, as well as appearing in competitions, often giving free performances for the elderly or at charity functions.

"I had started tap and ballet dancing when I was just three and have always loved it," Jeannette said.

Ron retired from the police force in 1989 but the family continued to live in the Gosford area.

"After a while Jeannette and I felt that Gosford was virtually a suburb of Sydney and we had grown used to country life and preferred country living, so in 2002 moved north to Yamba," Ron said.

"This is a beautiful area and we love it here. I still enjoy swimming and regularly take on the surf. Fishing ? I love fishing and I'm on the river here as often as five days a week chasing flathead and tailor in particular."

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