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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 premiere on Facebook on Saturday, August 28 from 6.30pm, we highlight some of the inspirational people who are being recognised for their contribution to the community through Surf Life Saving.

As the state’s peak water safety and rescue organisation, our mission is simple; saving lives, creating great Australians and building better communities. At the core of that are our lifesavers.

Be they on patrol, supporting the successful operation of our technology, or even lending a hand around the club, the fabric of what we are is built by our volunteers.

Often their actions inspire the next generation. Often, they shape the future of those they save.

“Growing up on the Northern Beaches I was always at the beach and in the water,” Bungan Beach SLSC member, Nick Fewtrell said.

“One day, when I was learning to surf, I got stuck in a patch of seaweed and couldn’t escape and was then rescued by a lifesaver.

“At that point I knew I wanted to become a lifesaver so that I could also assist other people who were in trouble.

“I landed at Bungan Beach as my club through a school surf lifesaving program, where I was able to spend every weekend in summer down at the club patrolling and learning new skills.”

Nick is a finalist in the Patrol Captain of the Year category, showing just how far he has come since he first joined his local club.

“Surf Life Saving has become part of my identity, my club is an extended family and friends and I wouldn’t want it any other way,” he continued.

“As a Club Captain and also House Captain, I am around every weekend. I assist in running the School Surf Life Saving education program, which is where many of our patrolling members come from, and regularly check in with Patrol Captains to ensure that they have all the required members for their patrol.

“As the member with most of the awards required to run a patrol, I am always happy to jump in and substitute or cover patrols that are short of patrol members for that weekend.”

His efforts mirror those of Joel Doble, who also has more than 12 years of experience giving back to his community by volunteering at his local club. A member of Batemans Bay SLSC, where he is the Branch UAV Coordinator and Club Captain, he is a finalist this year in the Support Operations Member of the Year category.

“My summers down the coast vary, from being a UAV operator the past few seasons, to patrols most weekends and helping out at the club wherever I can,” he said.

“We also try to train throughout the week, whether that be board training or getting an IRB wet with freshly signed off crews.

“Although it is good to be recognised every now and then, many of us do it just to give back and up-skill ourselves.

“It is really gratifying teaching people about surf safety and helping people out on their worst day if they find themselves in difficulty.”

The experience earned over years of training is what also assisted Jerrad Allen in a mass rescue of 11 swimmers caught in a rip at South Bluey’s Beach in October last year.

Jerrad calmly and professionally assisted each person, returning them to shore, before returning to collect the others.

He evaluated all patients and deemed that first aid was not required, and then took the time to educate the group on how to identify a rip and find safer areas to swim.

His efforts saw him nominated as a finalist in the Rescue of the Year category.

Lifeguard of the Year

Daniel Buck, Tweed

Amber Whipple, Byron

Liam Worling, Ballina

Morgen Parkin, Clarence

Luke Allman, Bellingen/Nambucca/Kempsey

Kye Polverino, Port Macquarie

Kyle Mullis, Mid Coast

Grant Cook, Port Stephens

Tim Dedman, Northern Beaches

Ben Porter, Royal National Park

Anthony Jones, Munmorah State Conservation – Frazer

Tyson Davies, Shoalhaven

Tony McCabe, Bega

John Plenkovich, Water Events

Youth Surf Lifesaver of the Year

Lara Wegemund, Cabarita Beach SLSC

Brieanna Rumsby, Camden Haven SLSC

Braydan Lee, Forster SLSC

Riley Petherbridge, Newcastle SLSC

Liam Drake, Ocean Beach SLSC

Emily Thornton, Queenscliff SLSC

Will Brown, Bronte SLSC

Brody Robertson, Bellambi / Bulli SLSC

Harry Wicks, Gerringong SLSC

Lochlan O’Duibhir, Pambula SLSC

Patrol Captain of the Year

Michael Pontefract, Evans Head Casino SLSC

Anthony Dunn, Taree-Old Bar SLSC

Natalie Tucker, Ocean Beach SLSC

Nick Fewtrell, Bungan Beach SLSC

Anna Crane, Cronulla SLSC

Markus Meier-Lindner, Bulli SLSC

Stephen Guy, Kiama Downs SLSC

Support Operations Member of the Year

Garry Meredith, Evans Head Casino SLSC

Lindsay Ellis, Forster SLSC

Emma Gale, Merewether SLSC

James Irwin, Umina SLSC

Peter Probert, Newport SLSC

James McLennan, Bronte SLSC

Jamie Caldwell, Bulli SLSC

Joel Doble, Batemans Bay SLSC

Recsuce of the Year

July 2020, Elouera SLSC

September 2020, Umina SLSC

October 2020, Lower North Coast Support Operations

November 2020, The Lakes SLSC

December 2020, Wanda SLSC, SLSS RWC (Support Ski 2), Elouera SLSC, Sutherland Shire Lifeguards, SLSS (Sutherland 20)

January 2021, Austinmer SLSC

February 2021, Shelly Beach SLSC, members Toowoon Bay SLSC, Central Coast Council Lifeguards

March 2021, Bondi SBLSC

April 2021, Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore SLSC

May 2021, Cooks Hill SLSC

The 2021 Surf Life Saving Awards of Excellence are set to premiere on Facebook on the evening of Saturday, August 28.

Friday 27 August 2021