Cooks Hill Surf Club funds stretched to limit

COOKS Hill Surf Club will pitch its case to the NSW state government again in September after it was rejected in the annual surf club facility grant program announced this month.

The club has already fund-raised more than $1 million through its own members for a new $4 million clubhouse, which the council approved for development in August 2011.

The money was raised through club projects such as its weekly Sunday night sessions and the annual Australia Day fund-raiser in Newcastle harbour - Ducks 4 Dollars.

A large sum was also bequeathed from the sale of a property in Corlette Street, Cooks Hill, intended solely for the clubhouse redevelopment.

Cooks Hill Surf Club deputy president Richard Hermens said the club was bursting at the seams, with equipment shoved in ceiling cavities and no room to train its volunteer lifeguards.

"The club's at a point where if we don't do something, we don't know what we will do," he said.

Cooks Hill is the region's biggest surf club and the third-largest in the state, with more than 2000 members, including more than 750 juniors.

Mr Hermens said the club also ran a successful program for children with a disability, called Same Waves.

This program is full, with 35 kids taking to the water this month and another 25 on the waiting list. The club wants to take on more enrolments but does not have to room to do it.

The council only recently cut a hole in the wall so people with a disability had access to the beach and shower facilities.

Hunter Surf Life Saving chief executive officer Rhonda Scruton said of the 13 surf life saving clubs owned by the local councils, the six that fell under Newcastle council's guard were in very bad condition.

The surf clubs were left out of the Newcastle council's 10-year $39.9-million Bathers Way project approved in 2012, which will update the promenades from Merewether to Nobbys beach.

In the meantime, Cooks Hill, Stockton, Nobbys, Merewether, Newcastle and Dixon Park clubs were all treated to a visual makeover late last year thanks to CityServe, a volunteer effort spearheaded by Hunter Christian churches.

But Ms Scruton said they all needed to be completely rebuilt from scratch with adequate storage facilities, toilets and change rooms.

She said adding kiosks and function rooms to the buildings would allow the clubs to hire out space and help them become more self-sufficient.

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