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Jayden Matthews of Lennox Head Alstonville SLSC and Briella Gyler-Dial of Caves Beach SLSC have been announced as the Ingenia Holiday Parks Junior Lifesavers of the Year after three days of team building and leadership development on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

Formally recognised during a presentation ceremony on Thursday morning, Jayden and Briella were two in a group of 22 eager youngsters who came from each of the 11 branches across NSW, having been acknowledged themselves as Junior Lifesavers of the Year for their region.

Knowing well that they were privileged to be among a very worthy group, all of whom could have been named as winners, the pair were thrilled.

“It was unexpected at first but then once I got it, I actually thought this was incredible to win,” Jayden said.

“It’s nice to be recognised. Everyone here should be recognised but the fact that out of everyone I was chosen is amazing,” Briella added.

A fiercely loyal patrolling member from the Far North Coast, Jayden has been involved in the movement since he was seven and cites his involvement in the Surf Life Saving community as a factor in building his character and confidence.

Judges noted he places a strong value on knowledge and understanding, constantly seeking out ways to grow his own. From First Aid to his SRC and Surf Sports to patrolling, Jayden seeks to inspire those around him with his attitude, just as he has been inspired by Surf Life Savers who have come before him – Ironman legend Ali Day is among his heroes.

“He’s just a good sport,” Jayden said.

“He’s a clubbie as well as a competitor, he does his patrol hours, he’s just a really good person.

“I really look up to him and I try to take the stuff that he does well and apply it.”

Briella, meanwhile, has nearly a decade of club experience, having been involved in the Hunter Branch from a young age. She understands the value of passing down experience to the next generation, having loved seeing older Nippers lend a hand with her age group in her early years, wanting nothing more than to be like them.

The panel noticed her actions speak the loudest, giving back exactly what she valued most as a young Nipper – she has assisted two Age Managers over three years in delivering the Nipper program, guiding them as they learn about beach safety and building their confidence in the ocean.

“In my eyes it’s really important to inspire the next generation, to show them that you can remain involved at your surf club as you get older,” she said.

“I like helping them to become more confident in their abilities.”

The Junior Lifesaver of the Year Program brings together each of the two NSW Branch winners for a three-day camp focussed on team building and leadership development.

At the end of the camp, two participants are selected as the Surf Life Saving NSW Junior Lifesavers of the Year.

“I really enjoyed some of the pathways sessions and I’m going to take back such good experiences to my club,” Briella said.

“Great team building skills and all the friendships I’ve made I’ll definitely take back with me.”

“We learned new skills we can use in Surf Life Saving in the future and we learnt that there are many opportunities,” Jayden added.

“Surf Life Saving is my life – getting these opportunities is a dream to me.”

Matt Young, General Manager of Tourism for Naming Rights Partner, Ingenia Holiday Parks, said being involved in a program now in its 32nd year gave them great pride.

“For us being partnered with Surf Life Saving NSW and the Junior Lifesaver of the Year Program, it’s really important as most of our parks are along the coastline and we want to keep our guests and our team safe,” he said.

“It’s almost like a responsibility; our guests and our team are interacting with the surf at all times. This is the next generation of everyday heroes.”


Thursday 14 April 2022