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For Trainers, Assessors and Facilitators, it’s about getting the “right people on the beach”. A simple mantra, but one that takes a lot of effort to put into practice.

As we edge closer to our Awards of Excellence ceremony – a night to celebrate the incredible people in our organisation and the impact they have on their clubs, its members and their local communities – we are highlighting some of the inspirational people who are being recognised for their contribution to the community through Surf Life Saving.

The Education category includes Trainer of the Year, Assessor of the Year, Facilitator of the Year and Community Education Program of the Year.

These roles are critical to the development, progression and, ultimately, achievement of our goals as members of Surf Life Saving.

How you approach your role differs across the board, and often can shape your success in building beach-ready members.

“Education is one of those key pathways into surf, where often you’ve got good people around the club who want to help out but don’t know how, that’s where your Trainer comes in,” Trainer of the Year category finalist, Jason Domeny of Broulee Surfers SLSC said.

Jason became a trainer after nearly a decade at his club, predominantly working as an Age Manager and Nippers Coordinator.

“I suppose moving into the TAF space was about providing that continuity of support to the kids you’ve worked with for so long,” he said.

“A lot of the people you’re training are your peers outside of surf as well, the kids or their parents, and with this training they’re often developing into voluntary leaders in the community. It’s about delivering that empowerment.”

Each educator has also followed their own journey through surf, which shapes their approach and, often, their motivation for delivering the role.

“I’ve been in surf for nearly two decades, started on the Central Coast and moved up to the Lower North Coast about four years ago with the intention of being a clubbie in the background and I’m now the President of Black Head and juggle lots of other hats,” Assessor of the Year finalist, Sue Gerrish said.

“You sit back and you think you can probably help, I want to know that the people on the beach can save my grandmother if it came to it.

“Especially up here [on the Lower North Coast] sometimes you worry it’s just a numbers game, so for me it’s about contributing to the safety of the community by being the best Assessor I can be and putting the right people on the beach.

“I’m not here to tick and flick, I always say I’m not mean but I also won’t let you get away with anything.”

No matter how the job is approached, though, seeing volunteers develop their skills under your guidance is the ultimate reward for a willing and dedicated educator.

“There’s a lot of fun to be had, watching the look on people’s faces when they get their award,” Facilitator of the Year finalist and Shelly Beach SLSC member, Paul Dowdell said.

“We’ve worked really hard to become self-sufficient at Shelly with the awards we needed on the beach. Back when there was a shortage, I put my hand up to be exposed to the education side of things and we relied on help from other clubs initially but now we can help them.

“It’s about paying back on what we had to borrow while we were learning, now that we have the numbers to really be able to mentor other clubs’ educators.

“My true club colours are red and yellow, so we’re just about making sure those in need are given the resources they’re after.”

The Surf Life Saving NSW Awards of Excellence will be held on Saturday 26 August at the Sofitel Wentworth in Sydney at 6.30pm. To keep up with the award winners and how the night plays out, follow our social media channels.

Assessor of the Year

Matthew Bell, Cudgen Headland SLSC

Paul Stiff, Tacking Point SLSC

Suz Gerrish, Black Head SLSC

Steve Westcott, Fingal Beach SLSC

Jason Smith, Ocean Beach SLSC

Herve Vichemont, Dee Why SLSC

Maria Luise Ossimitz, Coogee SLSC

Craig Walker, Coledale SLSC

Community Education Program of the Year

The Community Hub, Byron Bay SLSC

Dippers, Tacking Point SLSC

Healthy Change Challenge, Merewether SLSC

Community Defib Project, MacMasters Beach SLSC

Forest High Beach Program, Dee Why SLSC

Swim Brothers Program, Wanda SLSC

Broulee Surfers Sporting Schools, Broulee Surfers SLSC

Facilitator of the Year

Michael Kenny, Fingal Rovers SLSC

Kim Rayner, Tacking Point SLSC

James Wills, Forster SLSC

Steve Westcott, Fingal Beach SLSC

Paul Dowdell, Shelly Beach SLSC

Peter Fenley, Bilgola SLSC

Phillip Carter, Maroubra SLSC

Kate Balding, Coledale SLSC

Trainer of the Year

Sharnah Bowen, Cabarita Beach SLSC

Glynis Treuer, Woolgoolga SLSC

Dylan Sainsbury, Wauchope-Bonny Hills SLSC

Darren Moses, Taree-Old Bar SLSC

Willow Forysth, Stockton SLSC

Lyn Drummond, MacMasters Beach SLSC

Chris Pienaar, Long Reef SLSC

Anita Pryke, North Cronulla SLSC

Jaclyn Percy, Bellambi SLSC

Steven Reid, Shellharbour SLSC

Jason Domeny, Broulee Surfers SLSC

Wednesday 23 August 2023