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On behalf of the Surf Life Saving NSW Board and the Surf Life Saving Services Board, I would like to wish you and your families a very happy Christmas and New Year.

In Australia, the beach is synonymous with Christmas. For many families a trip to the beach during the Christmas holidays is as traditional as decorating the Christmas tree, singing Christmas carols and eating too many prawns and too much plum pudding at Christmas lunch.

Ensconced in the Australian beach tradition are our iconic surf lifesavers. They are synonymous with our wonderful Australian beach culture. For well over a century, volunteer surf lifesavers have patrolled NSW beaches, keeping swimmers and surfers safe.

And Christmas Day is no different.

On NSW beaches this summer, including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, our volunteer lifesavers will raise the red and yellow flags and keep a watchful eye over beachgoers. You may be among the surf lifesavers on duty.

For volunteer surf lifesavers, Christmas is a time to think about the community in which we live and serve. It is a time to consider what support we can provide to others and to be grateful for the support we receive from the communities in which we live. This is what the spirit of Surf Life Saving is all about.

As we reflect on 2020, it is hard to believe that it was just last January that the terrible summer bushfires swept through NSW decimating many coastal communities and forcing over 8,000 people to shelter in our Surf Clubs. Our thoughts are with those communities who, a year later, are still struggling to come to terms with their loss.

This Christmas period will be one of the busiest we have ever experienced on the NSW coastline. The COVID-19 travel restrictions will bring more people to our beaches and with that, greater responsibility for all of us on patrol – keeping people safe so they can return to their families.

Please stay safe this Christmas. Look after yourself, your family and your fellow club members and enjoy your time volunteering on the beach and coastline. Please ensure you take the time to celebrate and reconnect with your fellow lifesavers, friends and family.

Finally, and most importantly, I’d like to sincerely thank you for your contribution and commitment to Surf Life Saving during what was a challenging year. We look forward to your continuing involvement in 2021 in what everyone hopes will be a less eventful year.

All the best for a happy Christmas and New Year, I look forward to seeing you on the beach.