Junior Lifesavers of The Year Announced

Two young lifesavers have capped off their Nipper careers in grand style by taking out the Junior Lifesaver of the Year Award (JLOTY) in Sydney on Thursday.

Byron Vinkovic (Shellharbour SLSC) and Ella Cook (Narrabeen Beach SLSC) impressed the judging panel during this week’s development program at the Collaroy Learning Centre.

They were among 22 Under 14 finalists from the 11 branches in NSW nominated to take part in the annual leadership and development program which brings together like-minded young lifesavers in their final year of Nippers.

“It feels amazing and I was shocked and excited when I heard my name. It’s great to win this award as sometimes our branch isn’t recognised as much as the others so to win something this big is amazing – nothing compares to it,” a clearly delighted Byron Vinkovic said.

Like many of his peers, the young South Coast lifesaver was introduced to the beach early in life, and once he entered the water for the first time as an U8 Nipper he was hooked.

Throughout the JLOTY program the young lifesavers participated in a variety of workshops as well as recreational activities all designed to develop the leadership potential of the lifesavers and highlight the many opportunities in Surf Life Saving.

“I’ve learned so many new leadership skills and ways of thinking. I learned a lot about self-reflection and thinking about how I could be a better person, especially through the resilience workshops and talks by previous Junior Lifesavers of the Year,” Byron said.

Ella Cook has been involved in Nippers since she was very young and believes this week’s program has been one of the highlights of her years in surf life saving.

“It was really good how quickly the friendships developed and I think that was because we are all like-minded and share a similar interest. In fact on the second day people were already saying that it felt like they had known each other for years,” said Ella.

“I can honestly say the whole experience was amazing and I got so much out of it. I’ve met some new lifelong friends and have learned so much which I can now take back to my club where all the youth members can benefit from this knowledge,” she said.

The experience of the JLOTY Program reinforced both Byron’s and Ella’s ambitions to stay involved with their clubs.

“I really want to get my Bronze and Silver Medallions and become a Patrol Captain. The other thing I would love to do at some stage is become an IRB Crewman as it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and my long-term goal is to go to university and get a degree in some form of medicine,” said Byron.

Ella also wants to take advantage of the range of opportunities offered in surf life saving. “I really want to get my Bronze Medallion which I can do next season and go from there. I would love to become an IRB Crewman and gain qualifications in spinal management and all the other skill areas as well.

“Eventually I would like to be on the club Board of Management as well as try to implement a program that myself and the other Sydney Northern Beaches Branch representative developed during JLOTY,” Cook added.

Both Byron and Ella will be honoured as part of the annual Awards of Excellence to be held in Sydney in August.

2015/16 SLSNSW Junior Lifesaver of the Year Branch Finalists

Jorja Williams - Helensburgh - Stanwell Park SLSC (Illawarra)
Keehan Reilly- Helensburgh - Stanwell Park SLSC (Illawarra)
Grace Kuhnell - Wauchope Bonny Hills SLSC (Mid North Coast)
Isaac Plunkett - Port Macquarie SLSC (Mid North Coast)
Annabelle Smith - Broulee Surfers SLSC (Far South Coast)
Jake Shaw - Pambula SLSC (Far South Coast)
Chloe Walker - Coogee SLSC (Sydney)
Michael De Francesco – North Cronulla SLSC (Sydney)
Poppy Smyth – Coffs Harbour SLSC (North Coast)
Patrick de Carle – Sawtell SLSC (North Coast)
Ella Cook (Narrabeen Beach SLSC) (Sydney Northern Beaches)
Zizo Ayoub – Dee Why SLSC (Sydney Northern Beaches)
Annelise Romer – Forster SLSC (Lower North Coast)
Jordan Fowler – Forster SLSC (Lower North Coast)
Jade Williams – Cooks Hill SLSC (Hunter)
Luke Walmsley – Caves Beach SLSC (Hunter)
Cerys Cousins – MacMasters Beach SLSC (Central Coast)
Dylan Barrett – Ocean Beach SLSC (Central Coast)
Jessica O’Donnell – Nowra-Culburra SLSC (South Coast)
Byron Vinkovic – Shellharbour SLSC (South Coast)
Hayley Smith – Cudgen Headland SLSC (Far North Coast)
Zane Patience - Cabarita Beach SLSC (Far North Coast)

Photograph - 2016 NSW Surf Life Saving Junior Lifesavers of the Year winners Byron Vincovic (Shellharbour SLSC) and Ella Cook (Narrabeen Beach SLSC) are all smiles after the formal announcement on Thursday 14 April.

Below - The JLOTY Finalists and their facilitators pose for their official group portrait at the Collaroy Learning Centre.

Thu 14 Apr 2016