Barry’s Big Bash – 50 years of Ski Patrol

Barry May has patrolled at Thredbo for 50 years, and on 24 May 2014, his family, current and past patrollers, Thredbo residents and many friends of Patrol gathered to celebrate this milestone at the Thredbo Alpine Hotel. There were speeches, presentations and acknowledgments from political leaders of Barry’s extraordinary career in volunteer service. Barry was pre­sented with the 50-year service medal from the NSW Volunteer Rescue Association – which was only the second time it had been presented. All in all, the evening was the perfect start to the 2014 ski season.

Barry May 1975

Barry May on patrol in 1975 – Photo: Barry May

A key reason for Barry’s longevity on the Patrol is the camaraderie among the Thredbo patrollers, who hail from many different backgrounds, yet all share a great love of the mountains. Barry believes that “in terms of skier rescue time, Australia probably has one of the best patrol services in the world”, however in terms of his own personal contribution, he modestly says “It’s just a case of being on the hill and doing what needs to be done.”

Barry grew up in Narrabeen, Sydney, and did not start skiing until he was 26 – and he has not missed a season since. He joined the Thredbo Ski Patrol in 1964, which had been started six years earlier by two Snowy Hydro Scheme workers, Tommy Tomasi and Danny Coleman.

Barry’s career spanned professional underwater construction – originally diving with a homemade version of the Aqua Lung breathing regulator – to owning a sporting goods business in conjunction with Ron Harding. During the winters, he used to shuttle fellow Sydneysiders to Thredbo for weekends on a bus, staying at a local farm.

Barry May 1958

Barry in 1958 developing his love for the ocean – Photo: Barry May

His love of the mountains and of skiing have influenced his family, with his wife and all five children being very keen skiers. His eldest son David May became a patroller, and Barry’s younger sons, Anthony and Nick have both been ski instructors, with Nick specialising in racing.

Barry will be patrolling this coming 2014 season and has no immediate plans to hang up his radio.

The Thredbo Ski Patrol Association held it’s own annual rewards during the evening, with along line of awards going to different people.

  • John Hazell picking up Patroller of the Year
  • Amelia Burns was the Trainee of the Year
  • Glenn Kirkwood was presented with Trainer of the Year.
  • Duncan Isaksen-Loxton the PJ Award
  • John Silsby won the Fender Bender
  • Brett Harries received the Golden Radio, an award created for him a number of years ago.
  • Carol di Falco was awarded the Tony Weaver award