Fred Middleton

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He is as constant as the ebb and flow of the shoreline at pristine Flynn’s Beach, Port Macquarie. He is a Surf Lifesaving super talent, genius of the ocean and maverick for his age, still competing and winning premier surf lifesaving events at 59.

His passion for the salt water and sand has spanned across a lifetime, and he is a devoted partner to the beach. 

Fred Middleton was recently honoured for his dedication to surf lifesaving and has been awarded life membership of the Port Macquarie Surf Club. His dedication to the ocean lifestyle has made him a very worthy recipient, but where did it all begin? 

Fred started his surf lifesaving career at the Port Macquarie club at the age of 12 and has numerous SLS accreditations to his name, including bronze, silver and gold medallions, 25 years service award and 40 year service award … amongst a few. He has also held numerous club positions, including club captain for eight years, chief instructor for three years and over 20 years at the helm as a patrol captain for the club. His face is etched with lines of a different story, for a different day at the beach. Summer, winter, autumn or spring – the beach is a second home for this devotee. 

If you think that’s impressive, apart from his reign as a competitor and coach for the Mid North Coast team, the following is just a snippet of competition results that span a remarkable 42 years and include 35 State championships, 8 Australian championships, 2 World Championships, and – finally forgetting for the moment a plethora of silver and bronze medals – he has also accumulated an amazing, 22 State gold medals and 15 Australian gold medals.

The very humble and quietly spoken Fred turns into a warrior once he hits the water, and he is set and ready to turn it all back on again Sunday, November the 16th for the annual Settlement City Surf Lifesaving event held in the canals behind Settlement City and Panthers here in Port Macquarie. Fred believes the event is one of a kind – offering an entertaining day out and a fantastic up close view of surf lifesaving action.

“Join us for a great afternoon, soaking up the sun and welcoming in a beautiful summer,” advises Fred. 

Australia is famous world wide for its beaches and for the men and women who help make them safe – our lifesavers. Since the late 19th century, the popularity for beach swimming has grown – and with it the need for water safety. For a century, lifesavers have patrolled our beaches, helping to make them safer places. Fred is one of those heroes who has helped keep our families feeling protected on the sandy, beautiful beaches of Australia. 

Since 1949, NSW surf lifesavers have saved more than 300,000 lives in rescues. The first recorded person rescued using a reel at Bondi was a young boy, who gave his name as Charlie Smith. He was in fact Charles Kingsford Smith, who would later go on to be an aviation pioneer. 

Surf lifesaving in the country struggles financially at the best of times, particularly with the cost of vital surf lifesaving equipment. A few years ago a local business saw the opportunity to assist and with this a unique idea of sponsoring surf lifesaving was born. The brainchild of community minded Kate Byrne and Rosalind Blandford from Settlement City, they had a vision to help surf lifesaving. The vision was the Settlement City Challenge. Since its humble start in 2006, Kate and Rosalind have enjoyed being contributors to fundraising events to support the community. The Settlement City Challenge is of great importance to them – for what would our beaches be without people like Fred Middleton?

The Settlement City challenge started in 2006, attracting over 200 competitors in its first year. The annual event this year promises to be even bigger – with cash and prizes valued at over $20,000! 

The re-formatted program this year offers surf boat, dragon boat, outrigger, canoe and ski races – not to forget the ever popular Nipper board races and board rescue and the feature event, the all age board relay. 

A couple of feature demonstrations are also in order this year, with jet ski demonstrations, a surf lifesaving and aquatic trade show and a first of its kind presentation of synchronised board paddling by a group of local surf lifesaver Nippers, led by captain and coach Amber Carew. Music and live commentary is played for the public across Governors canal from Panthers, where the natural amphitheatre provides a hyper dome, colosseum type atmosphere.

The venue is directly behind Settlement City and Panthers on Sunday 16th and promises an entertaining day of incredible aquatic action starting from noon. 

So, if you are looking for a fun day out in the sun to celebrate the natural beauty of our beaches and water sports, you are invited to witness the best of the best, thanks to Settlement City and those lifesavers, just like Fred Middleton.

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