House debates

Tuesday, 22 June 2021


Caldwell, Mr Keith (Cocky), Hagan, Mrs Lois

7:39 pm

Photo of Sharon BirdSharon Bird (Cunningham, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

On Friday a week ago hundreds of locals attended the funeral service of Keith 'Cocky' Caldwell at Kembla Grange. In a moving reflection of Keith's lifetime of community service, there were representatives of New South Wales police and local surf lifesaving clubs from across our region. It was a great shock to me and to many in our community when we heard of Keith's death. He was only 60 years old and has been taken from his family and his community far too soon. It's a testament to Keith that in his 60 years he had provided so much service to our community. Keith was publicly very proud of his wonderful family, who were also active in the surf lifesaving movement. He passed away peacefully in the company of his family: his beautiful wife, Maria, as well as Jamie, Alicia, Natalie and Catherine. The service for Keith outlined his 30 years of service in the NSW Police Force in many roles, including undercover work.

I knew Keith through his work for his beloved Bulli Surf Life Saving Club. I regularly attended the club not only for presentation nights but also to be lobbied by Keith for funding to improve facilities to enable the club to best serve its community. I'd attend the club with my state colleague Ryan Park and often Councillor Janelle Rimmer as well, and Keith would give us a very thorough rundown on what work needed to be done or what new equipment needed to be purchased. With a friendly smile and a glint in his eye, Keith was a very effective advocate indeed. Keith also helped lead the club in supporting other community fundraising initiatives, such as their annual motor neurone disease walk that they had organised for the last eight years. He'd been president of the Bulli club for 18 years. He was a life member of the club as well as a life member of Surf Life Saving Illawarra and Surf Life Saving NSW.

His awards were numerous and well deserved. He was the Illawarra Volunteer of the Year 2006, Illawarra Surf Lifesaver of the Year 2011 and Volunteer of the Year 2018. He was the Sydney Water Surf Series chairperson since 2015. At the state level, Keith also received many accolades for his work, including the NSW Volunteer of the Year 2007, a New South Wales Lifesaver of the Year finalist in 2011 and Volunteer of the Year finalist in 2018. At the national level, Keith also took on many important management and administrative roles to support the movement, and he was very, very proud to receive life membership of Surf Life Saving Australia this year. I'd like to finish with Keith's own words from one of his last Facebook posts in May. He said: 'Thank you, family, for the belated 60th birthday present long weekend on the Central Coast. Grandkids had fun, love them to bits and my beautiful wife.' He loved his family, his friends and his community, and we all loved him too. Rest in peace, Keith.

I'd also like to acknowledge this evening the passing of Lois Hagan. It's with great sadness that I advise the House that one of our longest-serving local ALP members, Lois Hagan of Austinmer, passed away on Saturday 15 May. Lois and her late husband, Jim, joined Thirroul branch in 1966. They were initially members of Caringbah branch and then transferred to Thirroul via Canberra. They were great friends and supporters of the late Les Johnson, a former member for Hughes, and they campaigned together every election until Les's retirement in 1984. In the early years, the Hughes electorate extended into my area. I'm advised that Les's children Grant and Jenny were also very sad to hear of Lois's passing.

Lois had ALP life membership conferred in 1999, followed by Jim, her husband, in 2000. Her framed certificate was proudly displayed front and centre at her funeral service. She was the longest-serving branch secretary of Thirroul branch, for 17 years, and made a very significant contribution to Labor politics across our region. She was the founding member and secretary of so many important local organisations, including the Thirroul Railway Institute Preservation Society. She was heavily involved in many campaigns in the northern suburbs to improve the local area.

Many fond memories of Lois were shared at her service by her sons Jim and John, and by her grandchildren, who knew her as 'Lo-lo', and by Rob Castle, a long-time family friend. Her boys said she distilled a strong sense of social justice and independence in them. She said that there were already enough useless men in the world and that she wasn't going to add to them, and so brought them up with very strong values. Rest in peace. (Time expired)