Lawrence (Lou) Bond, of Wollongong, was "numb" when he heard he was a Queen's Birthday Order of Australia Medal recipient.
"I was very excited, very numbed and very proud," Mr Bond said.
He was recognised with an OAM for his contribution to the Fairy Meadow Surf Life Saving Club, which has spanned more than 60 years since he first joined at age 15.
The camaraderie and time on the beach were the big draw cards for Mr Bond originally. He also got a deep satisfaction from helping others. In one memorable rescue, Mr Bond said he pulled a man from the water, resuscitated him and packed him into the ambulance, which proceeded to be involved in a serious accident.
"A 15-year-old boy in the other car was killed, everyone was injured - except for the man we rescued," Mr Bond said.
Although he retired from active patrol at the end of last season, 78-year-old Mr Bond is a life member of the club, and remains active in the water as part of the Wollongong Whales Winter Swimming Club, and the Wollonging Swim Club.
He also balanced his passion for surf life saving with a passion for the arts, including theater and public speaking.
He was the presenter of the sports program on Wollongong community radio station at VOX.FM from 1990-2002. He was also a member of the Wollongong Actors Studio, 1965-1977.