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Encyclopedia Sabrina (Norma Ann Sykes)

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Sabrina At Point Leo

4 January 1959

On 4 January 1959, Sabrina went to Point Leo on the southern coast of the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. Her role was to present a trophy. Thanks to her attendance, a record 10,000 spectators provided the Point Leo Surf Life Saving Club with a handy income.

She went for a swim - with police protection!

A unique home movie of the occasion was taken, and kindly sent to me in May 2016 by Adrian R.
Many thanks, Adrian!

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Point Leo information from related pages

John, on the Memories of Sabrina page said

29 September 2010. John H of the Point Leo Surf Life Saving Club - where Sabrina appeared in 1959 - wrote:

Sabrina - Point Leo Life Saving Club 1958

Further to your email to Point Leo SLSC, I mentioned your request to a number to a number of older club members at a luncheon last week, many of these guys were at Point Leo when Sabrina was there and have vivid and fond memories and of course these memories become more vivid and much fonder as time goes by.

From my point of view, I accompanied Alan Forster [club president] (as a wide eyed 18 year old) to pick up Sabrina and her mother from the Regent Theatre in Melbourne to bring her down to the Flinders Pub, where they spent the night before the carnival at Point Leo.

Unfortunately I sat in the back seat with her mother with Sabrina up front with Alan. All they wanted was fish and chips wrapped in newspaper and we were able to buy that in Prahran. My brother Brian, who has been involved in publishing the club's 10 year and our 50 year history book thinks that he may be able to help you with photos.

All the best with your search, she was a nice person, cheers


Brian said on the Colour Pictures page...

Sabrina at Point Leo Life Saving Club 1958

Sabrina at the Point Leo Life Saving Club in 1958, thanks to Brian Horwood. He said:

Attached is the photo we have of Sabrina at a surf carnival at Point Leo in December 1958. She came down to the club during the period she was doing a show at the Tivoli Theatre in Melbourne. She presented the trophy to the winner of a major surf race. Plenty of publicity (about her presence) meant we had something like 10,000 spectators there, giving very good takings at the gate. Trust this photo is of interest to you. Best wishes ... Brian Horwood

The 1959 Life of Sabrina page reports that on the next day, the Melbourne Age wrote...

Record Crowd at Point Leo Carnival

A record crowd yesterday saw John Olsen, of Angelsea, narrowly defeat Victoria's top surf swimmer, Bill Knott, in the John Marshall memoria trophy race at the Point Leo surf carnival.

The crowd, estimated at 14,000, paid 520 pounds at the gate - a record for a Victorian club carnival... Tivoli star Sabrina presented the trophy to Olsen for his win yesterday.

Crowds moved into the competitors' area when sabrina surprised carnival officials by going swimming during the afternoon.

Police and lifesavers forced the crowds backwards while officials warned that they would halt the programme if the area was not cleared.

An unpublished autobiography by a person who worked with Sabrina during her first Australian visit wrote:

Sabrina was a very good swimmer, having learnt to swim when she had polio, so we had invitations from almost every Surf Club and finally chose to visit the Point Leo Surf Club’s Annual Carnival. We were collected by the Club Captain, Alan Forster, and on the way Sabrina said she would like fish and chips in a newspaper. All the way down the South Coast she munched on her fish and chips.

On arrival I took one look and prayed that the police had got my message and were there to protect us, but could not see any. There were more than 10,000 swimmers and spectators on the beach. As the car pulled in I really thought it would be turned over. We eventually managed to get into the Club House with the help of those burly lifesavers and outside we could hear the crowd chanting “We want Sabrina”.

She had brought a one piece bathing costume to change into and I got into my costume and with the President we braved the crowd. She presented the John Marshall Memorial Surf Race Trophy to winner John Olsen (John Marshall had founded the Club).

Sabrina was then presented with a Club jumper (a bit small) and then she suggested she would go for a swim.

I of course, decided I had better go with her, so did thousands of surfers. Sabrina, being a strong swimmer was soon out beyond the waves. I stood there and just wondered if she would get back as the crowd of swimmers swam out to her. Twice I was knocked off my feet in trying to reach her and shouting for help which everyone thought was just a stunt.

Eventually she came out, as always, quite calm, and sat on the beach chatting to spectators while we just stood around getting our breath. Every move was being photographed and written about.

Point Leo Surf Club would always remember the day Sabrina took over their beach. On our way home we called in at Liberal Member, Robert Dunstan’s home for drinks. It was another day over for me with many more to come, just as hectic.

Page Created: 14 May 2016

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