Dawley helps guide Lifesaving Society Ontario

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Julie Dawley might be a one of a kind volunteer in Lifesaving Society Ontario.

A volunteer in the Society since she was 16, Dawley was asked to be president-elect two years ago. In April she began her two-year term as president, introduced at the provincial meeting virtually from her Tillsonburg home. She will follow that term with two years as past-president, which includes representing Ontario on the Lifesaving Society’s national board, to conclude her six-year commitment.

“They call us the three P’s,” Dawley said. “They have a very good system. We all work together, and it works very well.”

It all started as ‘field rep’, and she later became co-chair of Area 5, which covers Oxford, Norfolk and Brant Counties. She served on committees, including first aid, and then became area services chair. She officially joined Lifesaving’s provincial board as vice-president of member services, and filled that role for about six years.


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“I never would have thought I wanted to be president… I never would have thought that,” she said, but a couple years ago the thought first crossed her mind. Maybe, some day. “The next day they called and asked me.”

An Aquatics Supervisor for the Town of Tillsonburg, and longtime artistic swimming coach, Dawley is one of the few, if not the only member of the provincial board that still actively teaches in the pool. She may also be the first rural president of the Society.

As president, Dawley hosts the provincial meetings, and oversees the Lifesaving Society affiliates for Ontario.

Dawley is excited by one of their new provincial policies that will lower the age for lifeguard and instructor training from 16 to 15 years old.

“So that kids can take the training when they are 15, and then actually do the job when they turn 16, which opens up a big training window. Before, kids were waiting to turn 16, then trying to find a course. Sometimes in a rural area that’s hard… you might have to wait six months to get a course. This way, you can take it in your 15th year and be ready to go on your 16th birthday.

“So it’s been very interesting. It’s very political and I’m learning that as I get into more of this. Not what I expected. Not a disappointment by any means, but I mean there’s a lot I didn’t realize… so I’m learning lots. The business side of it is very interesting. Especially right now with COVID.”