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Three volunteer surf lifesavers have been named as finalists in the NSW Rotary Inspirational Women’s Awards for 2020. 

Sarah Bugbird from Merewether SLSC, Bianca Manuel from Clovelly SLSC and Molly Parker from North Steyne SLSC are all finalists in the awards which were established to recognise the enormous contribution women in both the urban and rural areas of NSW make to their communities.

The NSW Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women, The Honourable Bronnie Taylor MLC, announced the 24 NSW 2020 finalists on Wednesday 14 October.

“These awards celebrate the outstanding commitment, energy and sacrifice of these incredible people who give so much of themselves and ask for nothing in return,” Mrs Taylor said.

Molly Parker, North Steyne SLSC

Molly Parker

Molly Parker, who is one of the three women nominated, contributes almost 200 hours a month to the Surf Life Saving movement. Having joined North Steyne SLSC as a Nipper aged eight, she has moved on to become IRB Captain at the club and a Vice Patrol Captain. Molly is a licensed UAV (drone) pilot, a RWC (jetski) operator and an IRB (inflatable rescue boat) driver.

In addition to the work she does at her surf club, Molly Parker works in the SLSNSW State Operations Centre as a State Duty Officer, coordinating emergency responses along the NSW coastline. In her spare time, Molly competes in surf boat rowing.

“I feel very honoured to be nominated for this prestigious award. This would not have been possible without the guidance and opportunities I have received from Surf Life Saving NSW and Surf Life Saving Northern Beaches Branch,” Molly Parker said.

Bianca Manuel, Clovelly SLSC

Bianca Manuel

Nominee Bianca Manuel has a long history in Surf Life Saving and a few years ago, at age 19, became a Patrol Captain at Clovelly SLSC, leading patrols that look after Clovelly and Gordons Bay beaches. Bianca also trains Bronze Medallion and Surf Rescue Certificate programs and in between studying at university, volunteers as a member of the Training Crew on Surf Rescue 30 – a Surf Life Saving offshore rescue boat.

“It is such an honour to be nominated for doing everything I do for Surf Life Saving and it’s lovely to get recognition for what I love doing at my surf club,” Bianca said.

Bianca also helps facilitate the Giant Steps Nippers program run at Clovelly SLSC for children who are on the Autism Spectrum.

“The Giant Steps program helps introduce kids to the beach - the touch of sand and seaweed and things like the sound of the crashing waves - which can be very foreign to some kids. Watching parents see the progress of their kids as they get used to the beach and the water is really nice,” Bianca Manuel said.

Sarah Bugbird, Merewether SLSC

Sarah Bugbird

Also nominated in the Awards is Sarah Bugbird, who started Surf Life Saving as a Nipper at Merewether SLSC 19 years ago and has had a huge involvement in the organisation ever since. She has held committee and executive positions at club and branch level and served as Area Manager for the Junior Development Program at Merewether SLSC.

Sarah Bugbird said it was a huge honour to be nominated in the Rotary Inspirational Women's Awards.

"It's incredibly unexpected and very humbling," she said.

A trainer at Merewether Education Team and Hunter Training branch, Sarah Bugbird also volunteers for the SLSNSW rural beach safety education program, ‘Beach to Bush’, which teaches surf and water safety to more than 9,000 students in rural and regional areas of NSW each year.

“I love the community aspect of Surf Life Saving and I gain a lot of satisfaction from teaching and educating youth," Sarah said.

This year the Rotary Inspirational Women's Awards were expanded to recognise women serving in the various healthcare sectors of our community. Given the drought, fires, floods and the COVID-19 pandemic, these have presented greater challenges and opportunities for women.

Surf Life Saving NSW President George Shales OAM congratulated the three women who have been named as finalists in the NSW Rotary Inspirational Women’s Awards.

“It’s fitting that in 2020, the 40th anniversary year of women’s official involvement in the Surf Life Saving movement as patrolling members, that we have three outstanding nominees in this year’s awards,” George Shales said.

“Between them, these women dedicate thousands of hours to protecting lives on the NSW coastline each year and on behalf of Surf Life Saving NSW, I would like to congratulate Molly, Sarah and Bianca on their nominations. We wish them all the best for the awards announcement,” Mr Shales concluded.

The Rotary Inspirational Women’s Awards committee will hold a Virtual Awards Ceremony on 15 November 2020, where the winners will be announced.


Wednesday 21 October 2020