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The Fish Hoek Surf and Lifesaving Club, founded in 1957, is a volunteer based
community organisation and sports club. Based at one of the most beautiful
beaches along the False Bay coastline, the club has grown tremendously from
humble beginnings when they used an old rescue reel and a line with a canvas
and cork belt as rescue equipment. Today, the Fish Hoek surf and lifesaving
club is one of the strongest clubs in the country and provides a community
service to locals and tourists who come to enjoy Fish Hoek beach.
Home to local lifeguards and club members, the Fish Hoek Lifesaving and Surf
Club provides two public services to the local community. Firstly, the club
runs a volunteer lifeguarding service, the aim of which is to keep bathers safe
from any harm. The club is also an amateur sports club which offers lifesaving
training to anyone above 8 years of age. This training includes everything
needed to prepare lifeguards for the regional, national and world lifesaving
competitions. Training includes activities from rescue training, swimming,
fitness training, surf ski paddling, prone board paddling, and Ironman training.
As the organisation is community focused, the lifesaving club relies heavily on
effective communication between members to ensure that all duties and
commitments are met. After making use of emails and notice boards in the past
to communicate with staff members and lifeguards, Tommy Veldhuis, manager of
the club, realised that they needed a more robust communication method, one
that was timely and effective and did not rely on people having to check a
noticeboard, emails or open a downloaded application. Veldhuis then decided to
turn to SMS as the most ubiquitous platform for communication.
Veldhuis started using the BulkSMS Text Messenger desktop application in 2005
to optimise the lifesaving club’s communications. Since then, he has used SMS
to communicate with club members and lifeguards for various reasons including
informing them of upcoming events, important club changes, and reminders about
which lifesaving squads are on duty.
Veldhuis goes on to suggest that “SMS is the most sure thing. It’s fast and
reliable and everybody (mostly) has a phone. Platforms like WhatsApp are very
limited because you can only add members that you have listed on your mobile
phone’s contact list. Group members might also get frustrated with the invasive
nature of Whatsapp and then exit the group, missing out on potentially
“One of features of BulkSMS that works best for us is that we can add and
remove members directly from a spread sheet. This feature allows us to make
changes on the spread sheet which then gets updated automatically on the
BulkSMS application, making it very easy to add and remove contacts so that
only current club membership receive SMS messages,” says Veldhuis.
While SMSing is used in conjunction with other channels such as Facebook and
email, Veldhuis stated that social media and email do not produce as timely a
result as an SMS message. Where email may be ignored or read a few days later,
SMS has proven to be the only platform that provides the club with prompt and
According to Dr. Pieter Streicher, MD of BulKSMS.com, “it is great to see how
SMS is being used by closed communities. Fish Hoek Surf and Lifesaving Club’s
use our service proves that SMS is still being used to ensure relevant and
timely communications between smaller communities.”