Ron 'Speed' Harding was a legendary figure at the Yeppoon Surf Life Saving Club.
Ron 'Speed' Harding was a legendary figure at the Yeppoon Surf Life Saving Club. CONTRIBUTED

'Beautiful and special day' to remember a club legend

TEARS, laughter, applause and fond reminiscences.

They all featured at a memorial day organised by the Yeppoon Surf Life Saving Club to honour a club legend, the late Ron 'Speed' Harding.

About 150 people, including past and present club members and those from neighbouring surf lifesaving clubs, attended the event on Sunday to honour Speed, who died in December, aged 84.

Speed was a member of the Yeppoon Surf Life Saving Club for 67 years, and was awarded an OAM in 2000.

The iconic figure was a life member of Yeppoon, Wide Bay Capricorn Branch, Queensland Surf Life Saving and Surf Life Saving Australia.

Yeppoon life member Jeff Blackburn said it was a wonderful day, and a fitting tribute to a man who gave so much to the sport he loved.

It started with the handicap surf events which Speed would regularly organise, and was followed by a formal service where people came together to remember the lovable octogenarian who had such an incredible influence on so many in the sport.

Competitors in the Ron
SPECIAL TRIBUTE: Competitors get ready to hit the water in the Ron 'Speed' Harding memorial surf swim on Sunday. Chris Ison ROK110318csurf3

Jeff said it was a "beautiful and special day”.

"I guess the common theme was that everybody remembered Speed as a mate,” he said.

"He was always ready to help people and really wanted to look after people.

"It was wonderful to see so many people, some of them former members of the club from 1950s and 60s, turn out to remember Speed.

"A lot of his family was here too which was really special for us.”

Among the participants in the events on Sunday was 83-year-old Brian Hooper, who competed alongside his son Jared in the surf swim.

Brian and Speed forged a friendship as teenagers in the late 1940s when they were among a handful of students from the former Brothers school in Rockhampton who joined the Yeppoon club.

Brian Hooper (84) completes the Ron
Brian Hooper, 83, competed in the surf swim at the memorial day in Yeppoon. Chris Ison ROK110318csurf9

"Speed was a very humble man and very well liked,” Brian said.

"He was dedicated to surf lifesaving and it became a very big part of his life.”

Brian recalled how Speed, for 50 years, attended as an official every Australian surf lifesaving championships, no matter where they were held.

"It was evident from the gathering on Sunday that everyone thought the world of him,” he said.