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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.

As we edge closer 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.

They say a good education is the foundation for a brighter future, and branches across the state are blessed with many talented, dedicated individuals who understand this. Their passion lights the way for the next generation.

Michelle Cowans is one of those individuals. A key cog in the running of Tamarama SLSC, she believes the tight knit team they have cultivated over the years makes all the effort and time worthwhile.

“I’m a strong believer in building a sense of community and rapport, what I love seeing is the friendships develop and grow between new ‘bronzies’,” said the Trainer of the Year finalist.

“I went through it myself - there’s three or four people I went through it with who I now consider my closest friends.

“It’s nice to see that transcend Surf Life Saving. So while I believe teaching these skills, like first aid for instance, is very important, we’re building a sense of community so people want to come back and they get a sense of fulfilment.”

As the Chief Training Officer, Michelle’s portfolio is varied. She trains people coming through the club, supports existing members with education requirements, and makes sure admin work is completed correctly.

Most of these fit well with her previous experience in the classroom, having spent many years as a hands-on educator.

While the titles are different, her role isn’t that dissimilar in its breadth to that of fellow volunteer and Coffs Harbour SLSC member, Mark Beavis.

Mark is a finalist in the Assessor of the Year category – just reward for the countless hours he puts into training and assessing the Bronze Medallion and SRC courses.

It’s never been a chore for Mark. No, it’s ingrained in him. Surf Life Saving, and giving back.

“If you don’t put in you shouldn’t take out, that was instilled in me as a kid,” he said.

“They’re good people, those around the club. They’re lifelong friends, I enjoy doing what I do.

“We just try to keep it fun when we’re assessing. If you can’t do that, you shouldn’t be there.”

While the pair are excited for the Facebook premiere stream of the Award ceremony, both admit that, regardless of the results on the night, they have already won.

“I was genuinely touched and honoured to be nominated, but it’s not why you do it,” Michelle said.

“It’s recognition from your peers, so it’s a nice pat on the back,” Mark agreed.

“But you do it because you enjoy it. You have to put into your branch and your club. You don’t ask to be rewarded.”

Trainer of the Year

Jill Ennever, Yamba SLSC

Ian Everingham, South West Rocks SLSC

Rebecca Austin, Pacific Palms SLSC

Steve Westcott, Fingal Beach SLSC

Tim Pittolo, Terrigal SLSC

Emily Buckle, Dee Why SLSC

Michelle Cowans, Tamarama SLSC

Bindi Adams, Scarborough Wombarra SLSC

Andy Depree, Gerringong SLSC

James Flick, Broulee Surfers SLSC

Assessor of the Year

Dennis Eyre, Cudgen Headland SLSC

Mark Beavis, Coffs Harbour SLSC

Richard Ellery, Cape Hawke SLSC

Steve Westcott, Fingal Beach SLSC

Paul Dowdell, Shelly Beach SLSC

Barry Antella OAM, Queenscliff SLSC

Phillip Carter, Maroubra SLSC

Jaclyn Percy, Bellambi SLSC

Annette Chapman, Mollymook SLSC

Community Education Program of the Year

EAC Surf Awareness Program, Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore SLSC

Welcome to the Beach Program, Cooks Hill SLSC

The Lakes SLSC and St Brigid’s Catholic College Inflame Program, The Lakes SLSC

Community Resuscitation, Queenscliff SLSC

Wanda Beach Safety Community Talks, Wanda SLSC

Surf Lifesaving Dreams Take Flight, Coalcliff SLSC

Facilitator of the Year

Stephen Perris, Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore SLSC

Jim Wills, Forster SLSC

Henry Scruton, Nobbys SLSC

Ramzy Fawzy, Shelly Beach SLSC

Peter Fenley, Bilgola SLSC

Doug Hawkins, Coogee SLSC

David Winner, Coalcliff SLSC

Bruce O’Sullivan, Mollymook SLSC

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

Thursday 19 August 2021