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We all know them – members who care, give up their time and want to make a difference. The Surf Life Saving NSW Awards of Excellence celebrate the incredible people in our organisation and the impact they have on their clubs, its members and their local communities.

Over the coming weeks in the leadup to our Awards ceremony, set to premiere on Facebook on Saturday, August 28 from 6.30pm, we highlight some of the inspirational people who are being recognised for their contribution to the community through Surf Life Saving.

In our community, support comes in many shapes and sizes.

As a nominee in the Official of the Year category, Wollongong City SLSC’s Melissa Gorgijovski showed that for some, those avenues of support are far-reaching and well rounded.

Melissa officiated at no less than eight carnivals over the course of the last year, and manages to juggle her three competitive children with her passion and dedication to her club.

“Without the support and mentoring of some of my colleagues, I wouldn’t be where I am,” she said.

“I am the first female to be a carnival referee for our branch, which was probably the biggest step for me this season.

“I’m just so grateful for the guidance of the late Keith Caldwell and Kevin Starling - they’ve really helped to promote, guide and encourage me. They gave me feedback and allowed me to step up and take on roles that we haven’t considered before.

“I’m also very grateful for the support of the SLSA Women’s Mentoring Program and Jenny Kenny who was by my side for 12 months. Her wealth of knowledge really helped me to enhance my skills.”

For others, like Youth Athlete of the Year finalist, Kalani Ives, the best support is that which manifests close to home.

Representing the Far North Coast branch as a member of Yamba SLSC, she also gave thanks to those who have helped her succeed in most recent events including winning the NSW U17 Iron Woman title and placing in various events on the Gold Coast.

“My dad, Todd Ives, who is also my coach and mentor, has dedicated so much time and energy into helping me achieve my dreams,” she said.

“I would also like to thank Brett and Kim Richardson of Ohana Ocean Athletics who have been supporting me since I was 10 years old. Thank you to DD3 Skis and Mick Herden from Australian Paddler HQ for helping me out with fast racing crafts.

“I love competition and I also love the feeling competition brings to me.”

That feeling of competition is all the support Ryan Cook needs. Nominated in the Coach of the Year category and a member of Swansea Belmont SLSC, Ryan sources his passion and support from those he coaches, and the effort they put in.

“It’s obviously nice to get the recognition for all the hard work but it’s reflective also of the work the juniors have put in to improve,” he said.

“It’s very easy to be passionate about something when you see the kids giving their all and growing as athletes.”


Samantha Miller, Lennox Head-Alstonville SLSC

Neil Charles, Urunga SLSC

Mick Lang, Tacking Point SLSC

Ryan Cook, Swansea Belmont SLSC

Damien Benson, Avoca Beach SLSC

Grant Wilkinson, Elouera SLSC

Peter Anderson, Windang SLSC

Nathan Foster, Kiama Downs SLSC

Neil Innes, Batemans Bay SLSC

Luke Morrison, Newport SLSC


Kylie Ryan-Milroy, Cabarita Beach SLSC

Andrew Martin, Sawtell SLSC

Tina Woodward, Tacking Point SLSC

Amanda Williams, Forster SLSC

Matt Egan, Cooks Hill SLSC

Ken Sellers, The Entrance SLSC

Robyn Allan, Elouera SLSC

Melissa Gorgijovski, Wollongong City SLSC

Kath Bonniface, Kiama Downs SLSC

Andrew Holt, Pambula SLSC

Steve Haggett, North Narrabeen SLSC


Hayley Smith, Cudgen Headland SLSC

Bella Williams, Swansea Belmont SLSC

Ryan Green, Terrigal SLSC

Ali Najem, Wanda SLSC

Hannah Minogue, Bulli SLSC

Sam Zustovich, Mollymook SLSC

Luella Boulton, Tathra SLSC

Jemma Smith, Newport SLSC


Kalani Ives, Yamba SLSC

Nick Caldwell, Tacking Point SLSC

Zara Foran, Swansea Belmont SLSC

Natalia Drobot, Avoca Beach SLSC

Lily Finati, North Bondi SLSC

Jasmine Locke, Bulli SLSC

Karla Jones, Mollymook SLSC

Dominque Melbourn, Nth Curl Curl SLSC


Joanne Kay, Byron Bay SLSC

Raelene Myers, Tacking Point SLSC

Kim Winter, Pacific Palms SLSC

Brendon Ross, Redhead SLSC

Hayden Smith, Terrigal SLSC

Scott Thomson, North Bondi SLSC

Michael Locke, Bulli SLSC

Jo Helson, Shellharbour SLSC

Shannon Job, North Steyne SLSC


Open Female Board Rescue, Cudgen Headland SLSC

The Kockatoos, Wauchope Bonny Hills SLSC

U15 Female Board Relay Team, Cooks Hill SLSC

U17 Female Ski Relay Team, Avoca Beach SLSC

Open Mens Taplin Team, North Bondi

U19 Female Double Ski, Bulli SLSC

Open Female Teams Rescue, Kiama Downs SLSC

Burley Griffin Braves, Broulee Surfers SLSC

Open 6 Person R&R, Freshwater SLSC


The 2021 Surf Life Saving Awards of Excellence are set to premiere on Facebook on the evening of Saturday, August 28.


Wednesday 11 August 2021