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Woonona SLSC’s Morgan Clarke has been recognised for more than 12 years of passionate mentorship and service to Surf Life Saving, named the Overall Officer of the Year in a Volunteer Capacity at the Rotary Emergency Services Community Awards.

At a lavish presentation evening on Saturday 12 August, Morgan was one of 19 deserving finalists from all facets of our emergency services, including three fellow surf lifesavers.

The Illawarra Branch Duty Officer (DO) and Woonona Club Captain was named ahead of South Coast DO Bradley Dawson, Hunter DO Glen Dunkley, and Sydney Northern Beaches DO Kieran Menzies to claim the Surf Life Saving NSW category, before then going on to be named the Overall winner on the night as well.

“I know the other finalists for Surf and I’ve worked with them all in some capacity, so I didn’t expect to win the surf one let alone anything else,” Morgan said.

“I remember pausing and thinking ‘Are you sure?’.

“I was honoured and humbled. It’s definitely not why we do what we do – I volunteer because I love being on the beach – but it’s nice to be recognised as well.”

Morgan wears many hats at her surf club, balancing several club roles with her passion for upskilling; where she participates actively in Search and Rescue exercises in collaboration with other agencies, and mentorship; where she works hard to grow club and branch participation numbers, particularly among women.

She leads by example, patrolling at two different clubs, and is a member of the callout team which has been regularly activated out-of-hours for major rescues in the Wollongong area.

“I’m really big on education as well,” she said.

“Where we live, we’re so lucky to have the coastline we have and I love taking the time with people who travel here to speak to them about where is dangerous and where is safe, what to look out for, those kind of things.

“I enjoy that teaching side, giving people who might not be familiar with the conditions the chance to enjoy the beach for what it is and not have to act after they’ve gotten into trouble.

“Preventative actions are the key.”

Coogee SLSC’s Kate Kyling was also a big winner on the night, taking out the Emergency Services Youth Scholarship.

The RESCA Awards is the only time all emergency services personnel, both paid and volunteer, are recognised in a combined program.

It is a community-nominated Award which reflects the reputation and esteem in which the finalists are held by their local communities.

Monday 14 August 2023