1982 Barry Turpin

25 February 1951 Surf Medallion (No 2000) Attended 50 national championships as a competitor, coach, manager and official.  Club offices held were secretary, club captain, coach, treasurer, president, life member and co-patron.

Surf Life Saving Canterbury

Delegate, assistant secretary, secretary, a trustee, chief instructor, a competition official for 37 years, competition controller, representative team coach, president and life member.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand

Competition official for 28 years, a referee for swim arena, national selector, national coach and life member.


Every sports club has its reliable people.  They are the dedicated volunteers who, through their lifetime, hold virtually every office in the club, and whose contributions are missed when they are no longer around. Barry Turpin was one of those people.

He was a larger than life character, and when he passed away in January 2001 aged 65 he had been involved with Taylors Mistake for more than 50 years. He had been a championship winning athlete, but his greatest contributions came after his competitive days. He filled a fistful of positions at Taylors through the years including president, treasurer, secretary, club captain, and coach. He was elected a life member in 1982 and was elected co-patron in 2000.

“To adequately convey to you the magnitude of his contribution is practically impossible,’’ said Paul Carpinter, who delivered a eulogy for the Taylors Mistake club at Barry’s funeral.

Barry’s association began with the club when he was still at school. When he left secondary school on a Friday during the summer he would head to Taylors for the weekend. He was fortunate at that time to fall under the influence of Graham Pratley and Bob and Nan Russell, other stalwarts of the club, who were able to teach young Turpin about surf life-saving. They had a young man who soaked up every bit of information about the sport that they were able throw at him.

He involved himself in everything – coaching, working bees and socially. And he was rewarded with breakfast in bed by Nan Russell. What followed was a tireless contribution to the club, interrupted briefly by a stint working away from Christchurch. It is likely Barry’s record of service to the club will not be repeated.

The special meeting to elect him as a co-patron in 2000 was told that he had held every office on the committee except one – women’s club captain. It would not have surprised anyone in the club if he accepted the position if it was offered, said Paul Carpinter. “He would have undertaken the position with the enthusiasm and commitment that underpinned his contribution to all the other offices he held.  He never said no when asked to help Taylors.’’

Barry held the co-patron’s position with Harry Goldsmith, another long-serving club member. Barry was an outstanding club captain and coach of many teams, and in particular his “grubbies”, better known as juniors. The junior club members received the benefit of his considerable knowledge through the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Then in later years he coached many of those juniors as men who brought the club numerous competitive successes.

Among the many teams Barry coached was a women’s six-place R&R team which included his three daughters – Louise, Sarah and Kate.

Barry contributed unselfishly to several other clubs throughout New Zealand, but his loyalty to Taylors was never in doubt. He was available to support Taylors Mistake in all its endeavours. “His efforts have been Taylors Mistake’s finest gold medal performance,’’ said Paul Carpinter.

Barry’ service to the sport did not stop at Taylors Mistake. Both the Canterbury and New Zealand Surf Life Saving Associations benefitted from his knowledge and enthusiasm. At Canterbury level he was a club delegate, assistant secretary, secretary, a trustee, chief instructor, and a competition official for 37 years. He was also a president of the Canterbury association and a coach of representative teams.

At national level he was a competition official for 28 years, a referee in the swim arena, a New Zealand selector and coach, and a national president. He was also made a life member of the Canterbury and national associations and received a Queen’s Service Medal in recognition of his contribution to surf life-saving.

Barry received the most prestigious trophy at Taylors Mistake in 1999 after 50 years of hard work. The Graham Pratley Trophy was for the Club’s Surf Life Saver of the Year. That he received the trophy 50 years after he joined the club was testament to his diligence, dedication, vigilance and endurance.

In the conclusion to his eulogy Paul Carpinter said club members had been privileged to have worked, socialised, competed with, and been coached by Barry.  As the co-author of ‘The Guardians of the Mistake‘ with Barry, Ray Cairns says he was coerced, or led down the garden path, to work with Barry to produce a fine history of our club to commemorate 75 years. We have all encountered this coercing aspect of his persuasive personality at some stage. Our respect and love of Barry’s commitment to Taylors has meant that it was impossible not to agree with him or commit to a task.’’

The Mistake was never far from Barry’s thoughts until the end. Four days before he passed away he visited the club and beach for the last time.

He phoned brother Jim “Tiger’’ Turpin, and said: “I want to go for one more swim, Tig. Today’ s the day.  If I don’t go now, I’ll never go again.  I want to feel the water in my hair and the salt in my mouth.’’  Jim Turpin and Barry’s daughter, Louise, took him to the beach and helped him to the surf where he sat with the waves washing over him. 

Back on the beach he met another stalwart of the club, Bev Breward.  They sunbathed together for half an hour before he left the black sand for the final time.

Barry Turpin, who by 1992 had filled every post of consequence in the club since joining in 1951.  The above is a one-off six-man appearance in 1982, at K-Day when, with fellow six-man competitors Jim Turpin (belt), Jock McNaught (patient), Dave Bradley, Lin McIntosh and Ian MacDonald, Taylors Mistake fielded a team whose combined ages totalled 256 years!