Ted Brooker, OAM, gave more than 70 years service to life saving and 23 years as Sutherland Shire welfare officer

Ted Brooker, OAM, made a contribution to the community that went far beyond more than 70 years of service to life saving.

Tributes were paid to Mr Brooker by Surf Life Saving NSW and the Elouera and North Cronulla clubs after his death at 89 on September 27.

What may be less well known was his work and empathy for children stricken with polio, his 23 years as welfare officer for Sutherland Shire Council looking after senior citizens and youth, and his involvement with the Lions Club.

Ted Brooker “defined heart and soul dedication to the community,” said another Elouera surf club veteran Ian Toll in a eulogy, read at the funeral service.

Fay Brooker told the Leader her husband, whom she met while on his way to represent the life saving movement at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, was “a very caring, compassionate and gentle person, with a wonderful calm nature”.

“He loved doing what he did,” she said.

Edwin (Ted) Brooker grew up at Ramsgate and attended Ramsgate Public School and Kogarah Boys High School.

He commenced work at Sydney Hospital as an orthodist (often referred to as a splint maker in those days) and moved to Royal Alexandria Children’s Hospital, where he worked with young polio victims.

His hospital experiences diverted him to a career in community work.

Mr Brooker gained the job of welfare officer for Sutherland Shire Council, where he worked to establish services, social and sporting events for old and young residents.

He was a driving force behind the establishment of senior citizens centres.

Mr Brooker was involved in supporting children with brain injuries, stroke victims and fund raising for Sutherland Hospital.

In 1972, he persuaded the council to convert a disused shop at Jannali into the Toy Restoration Centre, where retired residents could use their skills for community benefit.

Many of his initiatives are ongoing.

Mr Brooker’s service to life saving started at the Ramsgate club in 1942 when he was 18. He was a member of the North Cronulla club from 1949-86 and Elouera club from 1980 onwards.

Her served in many positions and was a very effective fund raiser, but his passion was the March Past, which was a premier event.

Mr Brooker was one of the top coaches in Australia and his teams enjoyed great results at the national titles.

He was made a life member of the Elouera club, as well as the Sydney and NSW associations.

Mr Brooker was awarded the SLSA President’s Medal in 2007.

Other honours included NSW Senior Citizen of the Year twice, recipient of the Australian Sports Medal and running in the Sydney Olympics torch relay.

In 2006 he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) and was one of the 100 “Faces of the Shire” during celebrations of the centenary of Sutherland Shire Council.

In his eulogy, Ian Toll, said Mr Brooker “devoted a lifetime in the service of his local community”.

“It would be best to summarise his achievements by simply stating that Ted loved every moment of what he did –  to make people’s lives more secure and comfortable,” Mr Toll said.

Mr Brooker is survived by his wife Fay, children Murray and  Michelle and grandchildren Georgia and Liam.