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The achievements of lifesavers from across the state were honoured at Surf Life Saving NSW’s Awards of Excellence on Saturday night.

Clubs from Sydney and Sydney Northern Beaches took out a number of the top awards including Rescue of the Year, Trainer of the year, Youth Athlete of the Year and the Innovation Award. Sydney Northern Beaches Branch collected the Youth Volunteer of the Year, Community Education Program of the Year and Assessor of the Year Awards.

The annual Awards of Excellence event celebrates the outstanding achievements of volunteer surf lifesavers across surf sports, education, administration, membership and lifesaving.

This year, the awards were hosted virtually due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions. The state’s top surf lifesavers were honoured in front of their peers with members from across NSW joining the virtual event via live streaming.  

Surf Life Saving NSW President, George Shales OAM said the virtual Awards of Excellence were a step outside the box with the Livestream event bringing all 129 NSW surf clubs together, despite the COVID-19 restrictions, to celebrate the exceptional efforts of members from the 76,000-strong membership. 

“The 2019/20 season was one of the toughest on record with the bushfires along the NSW coast and the impact of the Coronavirus ending the summer patrol season early,” George Shales said. 

“Despite the challenges we faced, our volunteers rose to the occasion – and they continue to do so in support of their communities. Each year our volunteer surf lifesavers put hundreds of thousands of hours into protecting the public on our beaches, but this year our members’ response extended well beyond the beach into the wider community. 

“We couldn’t be prouder of the way our volunteers displayed courage, bravery and resilience in some of the harshest conditions. They are innovators, leaders, educators, athletes, watermen and women. They have proven themselves to be among the most skilled first responders on the NSW coastline and we are delighted to recognise the best in each field at our annual Awards of Excellence,” Shales concluded. 

Sydney Northern Beaches club North Steyne SLSC celebrated great success on the night with three awards including Youth Volunteer of the Year to Trae Hare-Boyd, Assessor of the Year to Joe Mastrangelo and Community Education Program of the Year to The Gaza Surf Life Saving Project.

One of the state’s rising leaders, Youth Volunteer of the Year winner Trae Hare-Boyd enjoyed the awards with a small group of friends within his branch. He reflected on the success of the club saying during his live cross that he loved the diversity and opportunities available to everyone and how being involved in the education side of the club has given him the chance to meet everyone.

“I started off as a Nipper and moving through the ranks I fell in love with education so I moved into being a trainer at the club,” said Trae. “Training Bronze Medallion squads gives you the chance to get to know the whole club because everyone has to pass through a training course at some point. You really get to understand the whole club.

“Working with so many people from competitors to those who are passionate about IRBs and others who are CPR focused on the beach, people with all different views and walks of life are part of the club. That’s what I love and it's really great.”

Sydney Branch’s Wanda, North Bondi and Coogee Surf Life Saving clubs also took out a number of awards on the night with Bronte SLSC winning the coveted Rescue of the Year Award for a mass rescue carried out by a team of off-duty surf lifesavers which saved the lives of nine people.

Doug Hawkins from Coogee SLSC said he was honoured to be awarded Trainer of the Year after developing 150 new surf lifesavers in the 2019/20 season. “To be Trainer of the Year in this state, the biggest in Australia and to be honoured with this against all the amazing finalists is such an honour. Education is such a big part of what we do if we don’t do it right and really well we won’t be able to do what we’re asked to do,” said Doug.

Since obtaining his Training Officers award in 2012 Doug has become more involved each year after becoming passionate about the process of learning new skills and transferring those skills onto our newest members. "I wanted to bring the element of understanding the ocean and being comfortable in the water to the community and our surf lifesavers. Now it’s part and parcel of who I am. I meet not just locals but people all over the world and we turn them into heroes. Seeing anyone become a surf lifesaver is so gratifying, knowing they’ve taken the skills they’ve learnt and actually save lives.”


Youth Volunteer of the Year – Trae Hare-Boyd, North Steyne SLSC

Trae Hare-Boyd of North Steyne SLSC has had a tremendous season, taking on expansive and developing roles within his club and branch.

Within North Steyne, Trae became the Chief Training Officer which is a challenging role for a young person, training and assessing members who are many years his senior and has this season become a probationary IRB Training Officer, training drivers and crew.

While taking on this Directorship, he took on the role within Member Services as the Junior Lifesaver of the year co-advisor, a role he has held for 3 years in conjunction to this, Trae also took on the role as Deputy Director for Member Services.

On top of this Trae has undertaken a role as a probationary Duty Officer being mentored by fellow Duty Officers within the Branch as well as completing SurfCom shifts, assisted with door knocking welfare checks after major storms left many without power, as well as flood evacuations and 12-hour shifts spanning from 8:00 pm to 8:00, am assisting the RFS bushfire helping call centre.

An extraordinary season for an extraordinary young man who has a bright and predominant future not only within North Steyne and Sydney Northern Beaches but within Surf Life Saving as a whole.

A testament to the human spirit and a shining example to all those around him, he is the role model that brings respect to himself and Surf Life Saving through his courage and determination.

Assessor of the Year – Joe Mastrangelo (North Steyne SLSC)

This season Joe has made a huge difference in assessing within his club and the branch. Joe is passionate about sharing knowledge resources and advice, a valued mentor to probationary assessors.

Joe believes that an assessment is not for retraining but ensures that fairness and ample assessment opportunities are given without simply handing out an award yet effectively assessing hundreds of candidates across the branch each season.

Prior to the start of the 2019/20 season, Joe ensured an impressive 70% of club patrolling members were proficient before starting patrols.

Community Education Program – The Gaza Surf Life Saving Project (North Steyne SLSC)

The Gaza Surf Lifesaving Program aims to establish a Surf Life Saving Club on Gaza Beach, Palestine. For over 3 years, North Steyne SLSC worked alongside the Northern Beaches Committee for Palestine to bring 2 people from Gaza to Australia for surf lifesaving education and training. The role at North Steyne was to provide an intensive, comprehensive, month-long program to teach surf lifesaving with a focus on how to run a Nippers program.

The Club focused on providing practical knowledge and skills which they could take back to Gaza. It is hoped that 80-100 children will participate in the Nippers program, and 4 years’ time, the first group of Nippers will be able to obtain their SRC accredited in Gaza itself.

Innovation Award – Australian Defence Force (ADF) Pilot Bronze Medallion Course (North Bondi SLSC)

This award recognises a new initiative developed and delivered by a group or individual at Club, Branch or State level.  North Bondi SLSC won this year’s award for their Australian Defence Force (ADF) Pilot Bronze Medallion Course.

 Surf Life Saving has always had a connection with the Australian military, with roots going back a century.  This specially designed fast track ADF Bronze Medallion course was introduced, focusing on identifying existing skills, then tailoring the training to address any gaps.  Trainers and Assessors from North Bondi and Bronte surf clubs participated in the program.

This initiative aims to help prevent suicide within the veteran community by providing the missing link some ADF members face when leaving the service.  Work is underway to formulate a comprehensive plan on how to deliver this ADF Bronze course and create a framework that can be used across Australian surf clubs to encourage ADF members to join the Surf Life Saving movement.

Rescue of the Year – Bronte Surf Life Saving Club

The Rescue of the Year was awarded to Bronte SLSC for the fast off duty heroic response by lifesavers James and Kirsty McLennan - saving the lives of nine people who were caught in the notorious Bronte Beach rip and swept hundreds of metres out to sea.  Read full citation on this rescue.

Trainer of the Year – Doug Hawkins (Coogee Surf Life Saving Club)

Doug Hawkins’ passion and enthusiasm as the lead trainer at Coogee has directly resulted in 150 new surf lifesavers for Coogee and two other clubs. This season Doug trained five Surf Life Saving courses, including over 80 Surf Rescue Certificate candidates.   

On the community education front, Doug conduced six Beach Safety sessions to over 200 people.    

Doug has also extended his training skills to assist other clubs. He was instrumental in the development of the Garie SLSC Vanguard Project which aimed to attract members of the Middle-Eastern community to become lifesavers.  

Doug also participated in the Surf Life Saving Australia pilot program for the new online Surf Rescue Certificate.

Youth Athlete of the Year – Noah Steiner (Wanda SLSC)

Whether it’s competing or coaching, Noah Steiner always gives one hundred percent, achieving great results at the SLSNSW Interbranch Championships and in the Summer of Surf National Series.  He peaked at the right time for the NSW Championships with a superb performance, winning five Gold and two Silver medals in a range of events including Ironman, Taplin, Board, Ski and Surf Races. As well as his additional voluntary contribution to Wanda Surf Club, Noah participates in a range of coaching and water safety engagements as part of his accredited Junior Lifesaving Coach responsibilities and programs.  

Noah is a positive role model for his club and has shown an extraordinary ability to mix training, university, patrols, coaching and competition. 

2020 Award Recipients


  • Official of the Year: Debbie Pawsey, Evans Head-Casino SLSC

  • Coach of the Year: Stephen Monaghan, Wauchope-Bonny Hills SLSC

  • Surf Sports Team of the Year: Bulli SLSC Open Men’s Boat Crew

  • Youth Athlete of the Year: Noah Steiner, Wanda SLSC

  • Masters Athlete of the Year: Paul Lemmon, Terrigal SLSC

  • Athlete of the Year: James Koch, Shelly Beach SLSC


  • Administrator of the Year: John Eyles, Woolgoolga SLSC

  • Services Team of the Year: Batemans Bay Bushfire Response Team, Batemans Bay SLSC

  • Youth Volunteer of the Year: Trae Hare-Boyd, North Steyne SLSC


  • Innovation Award: Australian Defence Force (ADF) Pilot Bronze Medallion Course, North Bondi SLSC

  • Community Education Program of the Year: The Gaza Surf Life Saving Project, North Steyne SLSC

  • Trainer of the Year: Doug Hawkins, Coogee SLSC

  • Assessor of the Year: Joe Mastrangelo, North Steyne SLSC

  • Facilitator of the Year: Gail Henderson, Redhead SLSC


  • Lifeguard of the Year: William Vaughan-Smith, Bega Valley Shire Council

  • Youth Surf Lifesaver of the Year: Kai Darwin, Umina SLSC

  • Patrol Captain of the Year: David Winner, Coalcliff SLSC

  • Patrol of the Year: Patrol 5, Umina SLSC

  • Rescue of the Year: Bronte SLSC


  • President's Medal: Anthony Turner, Thirroul SLSC, Illawarra

  • Branch of the Year: Central Coast

  • Club of the Year: Umina SLSC, Central Coast

  • Volunteer of the Year: Debbie Booth, Tea Gardens-Hawks Nest SLSC, Hunter

  • Surf Lifesaver of the Year: Tony Worton, Camden Haven SLSC, Mid North Coast