Skip to main content

Several NSW volunteer surf lifesavers have seen a wonderful 2022/23 season rewarded at a national level, taking out categories including the blue-ribbon DHL Surf Lifesaver of the Year award at the 2023 SLSA Awards of Excellence in Sydney.

Indeed, for the second year running the night’s top gong went to a member from NSW, with Bermagui SLSC’s Cheryl McCarthy winning the prestigious category.

“For me this award is not about the individual,” Cheryl said.

“There’s a huge team behind every person succeeding and I’ve been so fortunate in my journey to have so many great people around me pushing me all the time.

“We have an amazing club at Bermagui and the Far South Coast Branch more broadly, we don’t have a lot of members, but we have an amazing team of lifesavers who work together to cover that stretch of coastline.

“Surf Life Saving has inspired me to do better and be better and play a part in my community.”

Cheryl’s name was the last called from a slew of NSW winners on the night, with Australian Lifeguard Service lifeguard, Mariah Jones taking out the DHL Lifeguard of the Year category and Fingal Beach SLSC’s Steve Westcott named the Assessor of the Year.

In the Surf Sports category, young Ironman Conner Maggs added another accolade to the appendix of his 2022/23 season, named the Youth Athlete of the Year.

His Aussies campaign earlier this year saw the Newport SLSC competitor, coming off his first year in the Nutri Grain Iron Person Series, become the first ever athlete to claim the Iron, Board, Ski, and Surf Race in his age category.

Alongside Anthony Doyle and Luke Chaffer, he also won the U17 Male Single Ski Relay and U17 Male Taplin and, with Zachary Paul now making a team of four, would also win the U17 Male Surf Teams event.

“I sat down with my coaches and made the tough decision to pull out of the Open Iron to focus on my age group, I thought it was possible (to win all the events) but I put a lot of work in,” he said.

“Some great athletes have won this award (Youth Athlete of the Year) before me so I’m very proud, but the focus is definitely on next season already.”

Ski legend Murray Braund’s illustrious 16-season career in surf sports was met with induction into the SLSA Hall of Fame – the Avoca Beach SLSC Life Member one of two on the night.

Meanwhile, the Central Coast club was one of four to be recognised among the Meritorious Awards on the night, joining members from Ocean Beach SLSC, North Cronulla SLSC and Avalon Beach SLSC as recipients.

Meritorious Awards are awarded to clubs, members or the public for outstanding deeds of bravery performed through lifesaving actions during and outside of patrol hours.

Accepting the award on behalf of Avalon Beach, Mike Stanley-Jones recounted the dramatic and emotional rescue and resuscitation of one of his mates and fellow club member Mark Head.

Mike’s rescue of Mark, unconscious and with serious spinal injuries, and the actions of fellow members, Andrew Clark, Stuart Cooper, Carl Atkins, Blaze Roberts and Lucas Molloy, meant Mark was able to be with the team to celebrate their award.

“Mark and I had gone down to do some in and out training on the rescue boards and we started getting some alerts from the headland, so I headed back out and found a body in the water,” Mike said.

“I rolled the body onto my board and realised it was Mark.”

Mark said the support from his mates in the aftermath of the accident was critical to his survival.

“It’s not just the hour on the beach they spent with me, it’s the 15 months after.

“They’re the only reason I’m here tonight.”

SLSA Awards of Excellence NSW Winners:

DHL Surf Lifesaver of the Year – Cheryl McCarthy

DHL Lifeguard of the Year – Mariah Jones

Assessor of the Year – Steve Westcott

Youth Athlete of the Year – Conner Maggs

Hall of Fame – Murray Braund

Meritorious Award – Avalon Beach SLSC (Michael Stanley-Jones, Andrew Clark, Stuart Cooper, Carl Atkins, Blaze Roberts, Lucas Molloy)

Meritorious Award – Avoca Beach SLSC (Nick Welsh, Mitchell Renouf, Kai Hodson, Kai Mitchell, George Ruzek, Jason Barnes, Stuart Harvey, Jeff Barnes, Gordon Jones, Garry Clarke, Millie Parker)

Meritorious Award – North Cronulla SLSC (John Bourn OAM, Terry Tierney, Stewart Cameron, Brian Vassarotti, Maxwell Lewis)

Meritorious Award – Liam Drake (Ocean Beach SLSC)

Monday 6 November 2023

Mariah Jones 2023 DHL Lifeguard of the Year
Lifeguard of the Year Mariah Jones
Murray Braund 2023 SLSA Hall of Fame Inductee
Hall of Fame Inductee Murray Braund
Conner Maggs 2023 Youth Athlete of the Year
Youth Athlete of the Year Conner Maggs
Avalon Beach SLSC 2023 Meritorious Award winners
Meritorious Award winners Avalon Beach SLSC