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Port Macquarie’s Sophie Oakeshott represents the next generation of surf lifesaver having grown up around the beach from a young age.

It’s been a busy year for the talented teenager who has just signed off on her final season of Nippers, as well as attending the annual Junior Lifesaver of the Year Program after being selected as the female representative from the Mid North Coast.

A passionate lifesaver and eager to embrace everything that the movement has to offer, Sophie is an articulate and intelligent young woman who loves the opportunity to volunteer in her local community.

“I volunteer because, I believe that the greatest deed is helping others, so assisting the community by volunteering where possible is the best way to show this.

“It has also come in handy with meeting heaps of new people and building strong relationships old and young for the future and it has guided me to who I am today.

“Through my volunteering I have also overcome my fears and this has led me to learning resilience and personal growth,” she said.

Like many of her peers Sophie’s journey into lifesaving began from a very young age with her parents playing a pivotal role in encouraging the youngster.

“My mother was a keen lifesaver and she participated at nationals, made the finals, and even participated in March Past, Rescue and Resuscitation events. Both my parents are active members at our club still so I think the life I was born into was, a ‘get involved and participate’ sort of family,” she said.

“Because we lived so close to the beach when I was little we would go there almost every morning, so it was almost essential that I participated in Nippers for the skills and values that it offered including survival techniques.

“I have made lifelong friends and learnt things that could potentially help save someone’s life, I am grateful for this as the experiences that have led me to my failures, and success have made me the volunteer surf lifesaver I am today.”

She cites helping young club members in the U8 and 9s with their first swim as a favourite memory because she remembers only too well the nervousness that can strike you when you first get in the water.

Sophie’s emergence into the next stage of her lifesaving journey has coincided with unprecedented change in the movement especially around the use of technology, and she is excited about the being part of the change.

 “We are beginning to work on youth involvement in the critical thinking and decision making within the clubs across New South Wales, and this was the hot topic at the JLOTY Program.

“Surf lifesaving in Australia is rapidly growing, with new ideas efficient lifesaving techniques to technology, like the awesome flotation device drones,” she said.

Sophie Oakeshott likes to give a little and change a lot, and if the passion in her voice is any indication she is likely to do so for many seasons to come.

From May 21-27, SLSNSW will be celebrating the achievements of our wonderfully dedicated volunteers as part of National Volunteer Week. To find out more about this annual celebration of the unsung heroes of Australia, please click here

Thursday 24 May 2018