An ‘unprecedented’ number of female lifesavers have cleaned up at the Surf Life Saving NSW Awards of Excellence over the weekend – a clear indication of the positive steps the organisation has taken towards equal opportunity.

Of the 24 awards available across five categories on the night, 13 were won specifically by female volunteers and a further five team or group-specific awards included female members.

“As a not-for-profit organisation we are very proud of our entire membership, but particularly the way our female volunteers continue to stand up and make a difference on our beaches,” said Surf Life Saving NSW President, George Shales.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we are leading the way in terms of gender equality benchmarks for volunteer emergency service organisations and that’s something we will continue to focus on and build upon.

“What a fantastic night to be a lifesaver.”

Of the five ‘Major Awards’, each of the three individual awards – being the President’s Medal, Volunteer of the Year, and the blue-chip Surf Lifesaver of the Year – went to deserving female nominees, while the Surf Sports category was dominated by female athletes. An outstanding female member was also recognised with the award for the Support Operations Member of the Year, a highly contested category.

Surf Lifesaver of the Year winner, Shannon Fox from Wollongong City SLSC, said she was very proud to be a part of the surf lifesaving movement.

“I can’t believe it,” she said after her win.

“Every second category was girls making a difference and having an impact tonight and inspiring everyone to stand up.

“That’s been the best part of tonight.”

It would prove a night of great success for Illawarra Branch, with Shannon’s award coming after her own club, Wollongong City had earlier taken out the Innovation of the Year category for its ‘Patrol Meights’ program.

Meanwhile, Bulli SLSC would claim three awards across the evening, including the Rescue of the Year where more than 60 members from the club, supported by Sandon Point SLSC, Woonona SLSC and Thirroul SLSC, responded to a mass rescue involving an overturned boat at Waniora Point in October.

Remarkably, water sports athlete Hannah Minogue would take home two awards, first being recognised as the Masters Athlete of the Year – largely thanks to her incredible showing at the Australian Championships in April – before being announced just moments later as the Athlete of the Year as well.

The Surf Sports category also highlighted the strength of North Cronulla SLSC, with the Coach of the Year (Tom Rampoldi), Youth Athlete of the Year (Lucy Flanagan) and Surf Sports Team of the Year (Open Beach Relay Team) all coming from the Sydney club.

“These girls just have this knowledge and understanding,” Tom said of his daughters and Lucy.

“That’s why they get to where they are, they’re all switched on.

“Everyone’s a good workers, everyone knows the processes that are required, they’re a great group.”

Meanwhile, Sydney Northern Beaches Branch flexed its Educational muscles, taking out three of the four available awards in the category. Warriewood SLSC saw Angela Shanahan and John Dulieu take out the Trainer and Assessor of the Year, respectively, while North Narrabeen SLSC’s Education Team was recognised as the Community Education Program of the Year winners.

Among the other major award winners were Julie Redfern, bringing the Volunteer of the Year award home with her to the Central Coast and her club, Terrigal, and Bronte SLSC was rewarded for its focus on support, succession planning, mentoring and skill development with the Club of the Year accolade.

Mid North Coast was recognised as Branch of the Year on the back of its all-round strength in lifesaving, governance, education and junior activities, and the President’s Medal was awarded to long-time North Cronulla SLSC member, Donna Hargreaves.

Surf Life Saving NSW President, George Shales congratulated all winners on the night and said he was proud of the wide representation across the Branches.

“After an incredibly challenging season the field of candidates for all of the award categories was so strong, there were so many deserving recipients of the State awards,” he said.

“I’m very proud to be leading an organisation that represents so many people who have no hesitation in giving up their time to protect the lives of others.”

ALL WINNERS

EDUCATION AWARDS

Trainer of the Year – Angela Shanahan, Warriewood SLSC

Facilitator of the Year – Kim Rayner, Tacking Point SLSC

Assessor of the Year – John Dulieu, Warriewood SLSC

Community Education Program of the Year – North Narrabeen SLSC Education Team

MEMBERSHIP AWARDS

Administrator of the Year – Jackie Bower, Tea Gardens-Hawks Nest SLSC

Youth Volunteer of the Year – Georgia Gaddes, South West Rocks SLSC

Services Team of the Year – Surf Rescue 30

Innovation of the Year – Patrol Meights, Wollongong City SLSC

SURF SPORTS AWARDS

Official of the Year – Mick Lang, Tacking Point SLSC

Coach of the Year – Tom Rampoldi, North Cronulla SLSC

Surf Sports Team of the Year – Open Female Beach Relay Team, North Cronulla SLSC

Youth Athlete of the Year – Lucy Flanagan, North Cronulla SLSC

Masters Athlete of the Year – Hannah Minogue, Bulli SLSC

Athlete of the Year – Hannah Minogue, Bulli SLSC

LIFESAVING AWARDS

Lifeguard of the Year – Reece Dobbin, Clarence

Youth Surf Lifesaver of the Year – Sven Loemker, Cudgen Headland SLSC

Patrol Captain of the Year – Kerry Morris, Dee Why SLSC

Support Operations Member of the Year – Nixy Krite, Bondi SBLSC

Rescue of the Year – Bulli SLSC, Illawarra Branch

MAJOR AWARDS

Presidents Medal – Donna Hargreaves, North Cronulla SLSC

Branch of the Year – Mid North Coast Branch

Club of the Year – Bronte SLSC

Volunteer of the Year – Julie Redfern, Terrigal SLSC

Surf Lifesaver of the Year – Shannon Fox, Wollongong City SLSC