Surf Life Saving NSW’s Awards of Excellence this evening saw its network of volunteers celebrated in a night capped by a stunning first, with the Surf Lifesaver of the Year and Volunteer of the Year coming from the same club.
Umina SLSC’s Paul Sharpe and Harold Marshall took out two of the night’s top honours, following hot on the heels of a group of The Lakes SLSC nippers and off duty members claiming the Rescue of the Year accolade for their club – the third major award for Central Coast Branch.
While part of the spectacle of the annual event was put on hold as COVID-19 restrictions limited the ability to bring the Surf Life Saving community together, a stunning Facebook premiere on Saturday night looked back with great affection and appreciation on the efforts of the past year.
Members and Clubs from the Far North Coast down to the Far South Coast tuned in to see who would take home the coveted state awards.
President of Surf Life Saving NSW George Shales OAM said the nominees were outstanding this year and that judging panels had their work cut out for them.
“With a membership of more than 75,000 in NSW, we have no shortage of amazing volunteers we need to recognise and it is extremely difficult to choose just a handful of people who have gone above and beyond in the last season,” said George Shales.
Capping off the Central Coast’s winning streak, Darren Moore from Ocean Beach SLSC was awarded the Presidents Medal for his outstanding contribution over many years. Darren’s work at club level was acknowledged along with the skills and experience he brings to bear as the volunteer responsible for keeping thousands of competitors safe at the NSW Surf Life Saving Championships in recent years.
Earlier in the evening, Sydney Branch was awarded the Branch of the Year on the back of its all-round strength in lifesaving, governance, education and junior activities, and Helensburgh-Stanwell Park SLSC, in the Illawarra Branch, was named NSW Club of the Year.
It was to be Umina SLSC’s night, however, as Paul and Harold’s tireless and outstanding contribution to the delivery of services for the Peninsula-based club saw them make history.
“I’m very excited, it’s an honour and I’m humbled,” Paul said.
“You don’t do what you do for the recognition, you do it for your community.
“We give a lot back to the community and the community gives a lot to us. We are a family club, and everything that comes through to us goes back to the community.”
Surf Life Saving NSW President, George Shales said the virtual awards presentation was a great success and, while a number of worthy winners were announced, it was a great occasion to recognise the collective efforts of volunteers across the state.
“There’s no doubt we’ve had a tough season,” he said.
“What tonight articulated though, is the success despite the difficulty of the pandemic.
“Having the ability to provide the public with the opportunity to visit the beaches throughout last summer was a great success, and when I look at the results achieved by Surf Life Saving NSW, I’m really proud.”
Many of the NSW award winners will now proceed through as finalists for national recognition at the Surf Life Saving Australia Awards of Excellence in November.
Trainer of the Year – Tim Pittolo, Terrigal SLSC
Assessor of the Year – Phillip Carter, Maroubra SLSC
Facilitator of the Year – Doug Hawkins, Coogee SLSC
Community Education Program of the Year – Welcome to the Beach Program, Cooks Hill SLSC
Administrator of the Year – Ian Latham, Wauchope-Bonny Hills SLSC
Youth Volunteer of the Year – Imogen Barham, Clovelly SLSC
Services Team of the Year – Maroon & White Silver Salties, Wollongong City SLSC
Innovation of the Year – Learn to Surf Program, Sandon Point SLSC
Surf Sports Awards
Official of the Year – Ken Sellers, The Entrance SLSC
Coach of the Year – Mick Lang, Tacking Point SLSC
Surf Sports Team of the Year – Open 6 Person R&R, Freshwater SLSC
Youth Athlete of the Year – Dominique Melbourn, North Curl Curl SLSC
Masters Athlete of the Year – Scott Thomson, North Bondi SLSC
Athlete of the Year – Ali Najem, Wanda SLSC
Lifeguard of the Year – Amber Whipple, Byron
Youth Surf Lifesaver of the Year – Liam Drake, Ocean Beach SLSC
Patrol Captain of the Year – Michael Pontefract, Evans Head Casino SLSC
Support Operations Member of the Year – Garry Meredith, Evans Head Casino SLSC
Rescue of the Year – The Lakes SLSC, Central Coast
Presidents Medal – Darren Moore, Ocean Beach SLSC
Branch of the Year – Sydney Branch
Club of the Year – Helensburgh-Stanwell Park SLSC
Volunteer of the Year – Harold Marshall, Umina SLSC
Surf Lifesaver of the Year – Paul Sharpe, Umina SLSC
Saturday 28 August 2021