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We all know them – members who care, give up their time and want to make a difference. The Surf Life Saving NSW Awards of Excellence celebrate the incredible people in our organisation and the impact they have on their clubs, members and their local communities.

As we edge closer to our Awards ceremony, set to take place this Saturday, we highlight some of the inspirational people who are being recognised for their contribution to the community through Surf Life Saving.


The Lifesaving category is made up of four awards; Youth Surf Lifesaver of the Year, Patrol Captain of the Year, Support Operations Member of the Year, and Rescue of the Year.

These awards are pivotal in highlighting the achievements of our membership throughout the season – showcasing the extensive skillsets, exceptional volunteerism and, in many cases, the leadership required on our beaches.

It will be one of the most fiercely contested categories, with each nominee across all four awards presenting a unique case for selection.

In Support Operations, Far North Coast Duty Officer, Andrew Mills headlines a strong list of finalists, all who could lay claim to the award.

Andrew has been involved in surf lifesaving since completing his Surf Rescue Certificate in 1981 and his Bronze Medallion in 1982, is a qualified Patrol Captain, and was among the crop of Duty Officers in the first intake more than two decades ago.

He has gained a reputation over time for being a highly qualified leader, a trait developed over many years as a Forward Commander during major incidents and is a capable RWC operator.

Such is his experience and value to surf lifesaving not only at his club, Cudgen Headland SLSC, but to the northern parts of NSW, Andrew’s skillset could also have seen him nominated as Patrol Captain of the Year, where Byron Bay SLSC’s Michael Berti, Dee Why’s Kerry Morris and Mitchell Payne from Gerringong SLSC are among the worthy candidates.

(L-R) Andrew Mills and Liam Drake

In the Youth Surf Lifesaver of the Year category, Liam Drake will be looking retain the title he earned last year with another finalist nomination in 2022. He faces stiff competition, however, with Sven Loemker in the north, Ruby O’Leary in the south and Wanda SLSC’s Benjamin Sutton among the many finalists looking to etch their name on the award.

Liam’s continued development within the Surf Lifesaving movement, including taking on new leadership roles over the last two years at State level, place him in a strong position to go back-to-back.

Meanwhile, in the Rescue of the Year category, some of the rescues to keep an eye on include Terrigal SLSC’s off-duty rescue while the beach was closed due to debris and flooding in April, and Tea Gardens-Hawks Nest SLSC’s rescue of a woman caught in a rip after patrol hours and during dimming light a month earlier.

Bulli SLSC’s mass rescue following an overturned boat in October will also factor strongly into the judging.

The Surf Life Saving NSW Awards of Excellence take place on Saturday 27 August from 7pm at Luna Park. Keep up to date with the night and the award winners for each category by following us on social media. #AOE2022

Youth Surf Lifesaver of the Year Finalists:

Sven Loemker – Cudgen Headland SLSC

Erin Cook – South West Rocks SLSC

Sophie Kelleher – Taree Old Bar SLSC

Riley Petherbridge – Newcastle SLSC

Liam Drake – Ocean Beach SLSC

Lilly Kovac – Warriewood SLSC

Benjamin Sutton – Wanda SLSC

Lucy Landon – Port Kembla SLSC

Zoe Cowled – Mollymook SLSC

Ruby O’Leary – Tathra SLSC

Patrol Captain of the Year Finalists:

Michael Berti – Byron Bay SLSC

Kerry Armstrong-Smith – Umina SLSC

Kerry Morris – Dee Why SLSC

Glenn McLachlan – Cronulla SLSC

Kate Jennett – Wollongong City SLSC

Mitchell Payne – Gerringong SLSC

Support Operations Member of the Year Finalists:

Andrew Mills – Cudgen Headland SLSC

Kim Rayner – Tacking Point SLSC

David Smith – Terrigal SLSC

Romilly Madew – Bilgola SLSC

Nicole Krite – Bondi SBLSC

Joshua Douglas – Kiama Downs SLSC

Gavin Granger – Pambula SLSC

Rescue of the Year Finalists:

Avoca Beach SLSC

Australian Lifeguard Service – FNC

Tea Gardens-Hawks Nest SLSC

Terrigal SLSC

Manly LSC

Coogee SLSC

Avoca Beach SLSC

Bulli SLSC

Ballina Lighthouse & Lismore SLSC

Narrabeen SLSC

Friday 26 August 2022