WHEN he started Kiama Junior Surf Club nippers as an eight-year-old, few would have anticipated that Nick McInerney would one day become the club's youngest ever elected life member.
Earlier this month the 36-year-old was bestowed with a recognition often reserved for people twice his age.
"I think the thing that pleases me most isn't just the award, but the fact that people within the club appreciate the amount of time that you put in," McInerney said.
"You certainly don't get involved with a club looking for recognition like this - but it's certainly a thrill when it does come."
After gaining his Bronze Medallion at the age of 15, McInerney moved through the ranks as patrol captain, chief instructor, secretary, treasurer, publicity officer, vice-president, fund-raising committee member, IRB driver and jet rescue craft patrol member, before becoming president last year.
"Since I started doing patrols, I have achieved 100 per cent patrol attendance for 21 straight years, which I am very proud of."
Not satisfied with just helping Kiama, he got involved with South Coast Branch Surf Life Saving and became a branch examiner.
He has since held the positions of secretary, board of competition committee member, board of examiners committee member and a level 1 and level 2 competition official.
McInerney also received numerous South Coast Branch awards, including Cadet of the Year in 1995, as well as Lifesaver of the Year and Branch Administrator of the Year in 2002-03, and was named NSW Volunteer of the Year.
"Apart from all this I think my biggest thrills have been being carnival organiser of the Jim Lymbery Memorial IRB Carnival, the state's biggest club-run carnival in Australia for several years and helping arrange both the Kiama club's 90th and 100th celebrations."
Aside from being heavily involved with the surf lifesaving movement, McInerney is a long-time official of the South Coast Group 7 Referees Association, and has refereed two first grade grand finals.
This included the 2013 thriller between Gerringong and Warilla-Lake South.
He has filled the roles of treasurer, vice-president and is currently secretary.
He is also vice-president and draw co-ordinator of the Jamberoo Touch Association.
He said the past year will be hard to beat.
"Apart from the life membership and refereeing last year's first grade grand final, I think the birth of my six-month-old daughter Grace will take some topping," he said.