Norma Cowper OAM has been awarded the Member of the Order of Australia for services to the community, including her contributions to Royal Life Saving’s Enfield Swimming and Life Saving Club and Belmore RSL Youth Club Swimming Group from 1964 to 2011.
Mrs Cowper’s passion for lifesaving was born from an incident she witnessed in the mid-1940s when a strong swimmer had an accident on the Hawkesbury River and was knocked unconscious. This was the first time she had seen lifesavers in action – a lifelong memory that stuck with her because, despite a love of water, she was a weak swimmer herself and had not had the opportunity to learn lifesaving skills.
Swimming and lifesaving therefore became a major focus for Mrs Cowper when she married into a strong swimming family and had children herself. Having been terrified that something would happen to her daughters and she wouldn’t be able to help, she was determined that they would learn all the swimming and lifesaving skills necessary to not only save themselves but to save her as well!
Her daughters were duly enrolled in Enfield Swimming and Life Saving Club and, once the family joined the club in 1963, both parents became fully involved in all aspects of club administration and competition, including lifesaving, both at Enfield and at Belmore.
Lifesaving obviously runs in the blood, with Mrs Cowper’s daughter, Rozlynn Grey, taking up the mantle and carrying on the good work. Mrs Grey is currently the Chair of the RLSSA Honours Committee and Officials Representative on the Royal Life Saving National Sport Committee, having previously officiated as Chief Referee at the Australian Pool Lifesaving Championships and numerous World and Commonwealth Championships.
Following news of her mother’s award, Mrs Grey said "Mum instilled the spirit of community in me and my sister from an early age. She is 93 years old now and she continues to be an inspiration for us to this day. We are delighted that her longstanding commitment and work has been recognised."