Life Member of the Batemans Bay Surf Life Saving Club, Anthony Vella, passed away at his home over the weekend.
The 64-year-old dedicated the better part of the last 40 years to serving, training and protecting the Eurobodalla community through his work with numerous Surf Life Saving Clubs across the shire.
He averaged over 100 patrolling hours every year, was the club's chief trainer and assessor and a major contributor to the emergency call out team.
Anthiony had been on the committee of the club for last 25 years in some form, was the chief trainer/assessor and facilitator for the club and was a major contributor to the emergency call out team for 10 years, recently stepping down frim that roll.
President of the Batemans Bay Surf Life Saving Club, and long time friend of Tony's, Tracy Innes, said the community is still coming to terms with the massive loss.
"He’s going to be greatly missed," Innes said.
"Tony has been a constant at the Batemans Bay Surf Life Saving Club and been a massive part of not only our club but the whole South Coast region," she said.
"Obviously the club will let people know when the funeral is, his family and specifically his brothers will be organising things.
"But we will hopefully, at the start the season, organise a little get together for all the ‘Clubbies’ and have a day that we can all sit around have a chat."
Lots of messages have been flowing on social media as people leave tributes to the man who meant so much to so many, being describes as a 'mentor' by hundreds.
"His training and assessing was massive for our area," Innes said.
"He did many many rescues after hours in pretty dangerous conditions and more importantly he trained the next generation of lifeguards that came through," she said.
"He patrolled every Christmas Day for the last 25 years with my husband and I, so we’ve been friends for about 35 years."
Although Ms Innes said there were many great memories of working alongside her friend Tony, there was one that really stuck out.
"His interaction with the children was probably the most hilarious," Innes recalled.
"His nickname has always been 'Grumpy' and for some mad reason, small children love him," she said witha laugh.
"They would be on him and want to play with him all the time, it was just amazing.
"All the nippers interacted very well with him and that element that he could muck around with the kids and then at the same time and impart some knowledge on them, I think was probably the most striking memory I have of Tony."
Prior to surf lifesaving, Anthony was a rugby captain/coach in France for many years, before he joined the local rugby league scene where he won premierships with Batemans Bay and Moruya.
The Batemans Bay Tigers held a minutes silence before their game against Bombala on the weekend to pay tribute to Anthony 'Grumpy' Vella.
Family and Friends are invited to attend a gathering at the Batemans Bay Surf Lifesaving Club on Thursday 14th to celebrate Tony’s life and the wonderful man that he was.
Approximately 12.30pm after funeral. Food and Beverages will be supplied.
Image: Batemans Bay Surf Life Saving Club