Graham Sharpe and Leanna de Biasi

On Friday evening 17th July 2020, Graham Sharpe was announced as Assessor of the Year, at the SLSWA Awards of Excellence livestream pandemic edition.

So it’s only appropriate that we assess Sharpie to see if being Assessor of the Year qualifies him to be Clubbie of the Month!

And we all know that alongside every cadet sized Assessor is a slightly taller and better looking woman happily helping to making sure the paperwork doesn’t go missing.

So it’s only appropriate that we also train our gaze on Leanne, who Graham assessed to be his best chance to facilitate a happily ever after.

¼ ½ ¾

Although Swanny Shorebreak came out of self-isolation to watch the real life reaction of Sharpie to the online announcement of his win, such was the depth of his pre-recorded acceptance speech that we didn’t think to ask him any CotM questions until the following day. So very quickly we put the following hard-hitting investigative journalism questions to Graham and Leanna via email. They replied as follows, in the separate emails, 11 minutes apart:

How long have you been at Swanny?

Graham: I started at Swanny in 2003, so about 17 years. Time flies when you’re not counting 🙂 ¹

Leanna: Since December 2017 ²

How did you come to be at Swanny? 

Leanna: I chose Swanny because of Graham and chose surf lifesaving because of Graham too. ♥ 

Graham: I was a green Lifesaving Cadet with the Christ Church Grammar School Cadet Program run by Kareena Preston and Jon Broomhall. I lived close to the beach and thought I’d give it a go. I genuinely didn’t expect it to be so much fun. Kareena and Jon were simply awesome trainers and clubbies like Stewie Alcorn, Tim Tucak and Erin Gallagher made it so easy to be a part of the Club once I finished the course. ♣

How many SLSA awards do you have and what awards would you like to have?

Graham: Surfguard says something like 138, but in reality, so long as it says my Silver Medallion IRB Driver is current, I’m happy! ♣

Leanna: I have my Bronze and Advanced Resuscitation Techniques Certificate. ♦

What is your experience of training and assessing at Swanny? Any trainer or trainee tips to share?

Leanna: I haven’t made my way into the training or assessing but I enjoy coming along to be a Happy Helper 🙂 ¹¹

Graham: I became a Bronze Training Officer and then an Assessor in 2005 and just kept collecting awards. I have a heap of one-liners about training and assessing that I share whether people want me to or not. One has got to be – ‘if you aren’t enjoying yourself, you are doing it wrong’.

Another would be, ‘if you are running training in the evening at Swanny, take your FOB with you when you leave the Clubrooms to run scenarios… or a mobile phone’. ¹²

Who is your favourite ironman/ironwoman?

Graham: Ironman it has got to be Caine Eckstein ∞. I know Ceris Graham from Trigg Island from years back and she is an awesome competitor.

Leanna: I am not sure as I don’t follow Ironman/Ironwoman, though I do think it is a great sport and I admire the perseverance of all the competitors! ∑

Favourite food?

Leanna: Soups or anything with lemon 🙂 £

Graham: Mac’n’Cheese but never cooked while camping – there is a story there. Don’t ask. ¥

Plans for next season? (Also what were you going to do at the end of last season but couldn’t? What are you doing instead?)

Graham: To knock out the Gold (Medallion) would be one goal for sure, I must sort out the fitness first – you’ll see me at swim training soon. ²¹ 

I have joined up with the Edu Team again this season so I’m looking forward to helping whoever is keen to get some trainer and assessor awards under their belt. If you are keen hit me up!

Leanna: I’m looking forward to patrols and maybe doing some higher awards for next season ²². I am also looking forward to Swanny’s social events 🙂

What do you like about Swanny?

Leanna: Everything !! It is a great place to be any day of the week and I love that no matter when I come to the Swanny beach there is always a familiar face.

Graham: It has got to be the people. I have made lifelong friends at the Club, its awesome to be surrounded by such great people. Whether it’s at a party, on patrol or on a course the people at Swanny are the best anywhere on any coastline. You rock!

It is also really inspiring seeing how people get involved with the Club. I get a real buzz out of seeing someone who joined recently stepping up as a trainer, patrol captain or part of the Club management.

Anything else that is funny or interesting?

Graham: I am pretty sure there are archives full at the Club of the embarrassing stuff I have done. One I always remember is when I got my 10 year service award with Briggy standing up to speak about my time at the Club in such a professional manner – and then strolling up to me after with a glint in his eye afterwards saying he had a photo of me on a well-lit notorious painting evening/morning held early in the year but decided at the last minute not to show it on the big screen with the then Mayor, his wife and different SLSWA dignitaries in the room. In my version of the story I took in the news in a cool, calm and collected manner. ³¹

Leanna: I am not sure I have any interesting stories yet. ³²


Great to see that Sharpie has made a mark on the Club (in a positive way) unlike a Sharpie that would make a mark on the Club (in a negative way).

¹ Actually Surfguard says Sharpie joined on 24 March 2003, 5 days after he gained his Bronze! (Paperwork is not Sharpie’s strong point!)

² Actually joined the end of September 2017. Obviously keen to be on that first Bronze course!

♥ We were expecting a love at first night of Bronze course story, but we’re very happy for Leanna and Graham, even more so that Leanna shares the same passion for lifesaving and Swanny as Graham.

♣ A year after gaining his Bronze, Sharpie was helping run the Christ Church Grammar School Cadet Program. Stewie Alcorn then Club Captain wrote the following in the 2003/04 Annual Report: “There is one member I would specifically like to mention – Graham Sharpe. This young man became a member through the Christ Church Grammar School Cadet program. Unlike his peers, who are happy to gain their Surf Rescue Certificate and leave it at that, Graham has committed himself to furthering his own education and those of future members. Just after he gained his Bronze Graham rolled up his sleeves and began assisting in the training of his peers at Christ Church as well as our new Bronzies at the club. He, along with Julian Gibbings and Katie Doyle are responsible for looking after our Nippers every Sunday, a task he has taken to with great enthusiasm. He is extremely popular with the kids and I hope he will continue to be involved.”

♣ Awards Matrix selection:
10 and 15 Year National Patrol Service Award

Age Manager Course
ARC/ARTC ; Trainer ; Assessor ; Facilitator
SRC/BM ; Trainer ; Assessor
First Aid/SFAC ; Trainer ; Assessor ; Facilitator
IRB Crew ; Driver ; Trainer ; Assessor
Spinal Management ; Facilitator
Certificate II in Public Safety (Aquatic Rescue)
Certificate IV in Assessment and Workplace Training
Certificate IV in Training and Assessment
Defibrillation Certificate
Diploma of Vocational Education and Training
ILS International AED Operator
ILS International Instructor Surf Lifeguard
ILS International Rescue Boat Driver
ILS International Surf Lifeguard
IRB Crew Certificate
Pain Management Certificate
Resuscitation Certificate
Safeguarding Children and Young People Awareness
Safer Surf Clubs Online Part 1
Silver Medallion Beach Management ; Facilitator
Silver Medallion IRB Driver
Silver Medallion Patrol Captain
WA Facilitator (Assessor)
WA Facilitator (Trainer)

♦ Make sure you requal your ARTC!

¹¹ We’re more than happy you’re helping.

¹² Or take a radio! (Radios are still in the Bronze aren’t they?)

∞ Caine is the shorter of the Eckstein brothers.

∑ According to my pantry the answer is Matt Poole, Courtney Hancock and Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain.

£ Lemon soup?

¥ You’ve never cooked Mac’n’Cheese while camping or you’ve eaten Mac’n’Cheese while camping that wasn’t cooked?

²¹ For a moment we thought you were saying to knock out the Coolangatta Gold! But then you weren’t at swimming training!

²² Perhaps 136 of them?

³¹ ITN? NFI!

³² I’m sure it won’t be long until you have some tall stories!


¼. ‘Graham and Lil’. Actually Lil on the left and Graham on the right. There was no explanation with this caricature so I’m assuming Leanna is the artist of the pair!

½. Graham and Leanna. Took me a while on Facebook to find a photo in Sharpie’s page that show’s that Leanna is taller than him. That horizon doesn’t lie. Nor does it lie horizontal!

¾. Graham doing Water Safety in 2008. Sharpie sent me a photo of an IRB Crew training squad but the quality wasn’t great so I substituted this instead. Left to right: Jo Pownall, Clare McNeill, Kate Francis (now Anderson) and unknown to me. If you look closely you’ll see the rescue boards are tie-ed onto the IRB with rope. They didn’t come loose this trip, but… there is a story there. Don’t ask.

Who is Who:

Sharpie – Graham Sharpe (Long Service Member and current SLSWA Assessor of the Year)
Lil – Leanna de Biasi (Active Member, Happy Helper on Bronze Medallion course)
(Graham and Leanna are engaged!)
Kareena Preston (former Long Service Member of Champion Patrol fame, former Cadets Trainer)
Jon Broomhall (Life Member, of Champion Patrol fame and holder of 87 SLSA awards)
Stewie Alcorn (Life Member, former Club Captain and also of Champion Patrol fame)
Tim Tucak (Life Member, former Trainer of the Year and also of Champion Patrol fame)
Erin Gallagher (Life Member, former Lifesaver of the Year and of First Aid Competition fame)
Caine Eckstein (Ironman, Shannon’s younger brother, five time winner of Coolangatta Gold)
Ceris Graham (Ironwoman, current SLSWA State Ironwoman Champion, being her first win)
Trigg Island (Surf Life Saving Club named after Trigg Island a low wave-washed rocky islet)
Edu Team (Constitutionally the Education Portfolio or in common parlance the Education Team)
Briggy – Peter Brigg (Life Member, of Champion Patrol fame and holder of 57 SLSA awards)
Julian Gibbings (Life Member, Trainer but not an Assessor, holder of 38 SLSA awards)
Katie Doyle (former Club Member, member of State Champion Mixed 5 Person R&R Team)
Eckstein brothers (Shannon Eckstein and Caine Eckstein, nine SLSA Ironman titles between them)
Matt Poole (Nutri-Grain® Ironman Champion, recently on Kellogg’s® Nutri-Grain® cereal boxes)
Courtney Hancock (Nutri-Grain® Ironwoman Champion, also on Kellogg’s® Nutri-Grain® cereal boxes)
Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain (Kellogg’s® Nutri-Grain® one of the Highest Protein Cereals∧ so it says on the box)
Coolangatta Gold (One of the premier events in the sport of Ironman (surf lifesaving))
Jo Pownall (former Long Service Member, former Marketing Manager, former water safety member)
Clare McNeill (former Active Member and sister of Emily McNeill former Active Member)
Kate Francis (now Anderson) (former Active Member, former Marketing Manager, former water safety member)
Unknown to me (former Active Member and former water safety member)