Almost 500 finalists,friends and family frocked up to celebrate the 111th season of Surf Life Saving in NSW at the annual Awards of Excellence proudly supported by Port Authority of New South Wales.
The event celebrates the outstanding achievements of volunteer surf lifesavers across surf sports, education, administration, membership and lifesaving.
Television personality and 30-year member Tom Williams hosted the evening at Dockside, Darling Harbour. He shared the stage with the state’s top surf lifesavers as they were honoured in front of their peers.
Central Coast clubs picked up six major awards on the night with Umina Beach SLSC taking three on their own, including; Youth Surf Lifesaver of the Year, Patrol of the Year and the prestigious Club of the Year award.
Umina Beach SLSC has enjoyed resounding success with their campaign, ‘Does the Cap Fit’. They have made significant inroads increasing engagement from sponsors, members and the community. This year they achieved the 1000th member milestone and have had a number of incredible results in surf sports, education and training and retention.
The state’s most southern branch took home four awards including Branch of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, the Innovation Award and the President’s Medal, awarded to Cheryl McCarthy from Bermagui SLSC. Seven clubs make up the Far South Coast Branch, with a footprint covering one of the largest and most isolated stretches of coast in the state – some 230 kilometres.
The Branch has championed the development of new processes in partnership with other emergency services for remote search and rescue incidents. They are leading the way with multi-agency operations with the Police and SES where they have integrated drones, giving them greater capability to contribute to after-hours callouts.
“Our branch works so hard and we'd be nowhere without the forward-thinking of our Board of Directors and amazing members," said Far South Coast President, Tony Rettke.
"We might be one of the smallest branches in the state, but we have some of the most hard-working, passionate and innovative members who put not only their day jobs on the line to respond to call-outs 365 days of the year, but also their lives on the line to save others.
"I'm so proud that the seven clubs in the Far South Coast can be recognised for their efforts in a room of amazing lifesavers, for the second year running. It's a real thrill to be here and accept this award on behalf of the Far South Coast."
The prestigious 2019 Port Authority of NSW Surf Lifesaver of the Year was awarded to Maroubra SLSC’s Mathew Harper.
A member for 15 years, 24 year-old Mat has obtained almost every Surf Life Saving award including the Gold Medallion. As Club Captain he has helped his club achieve a record 100% proficiency in the 2018/19 season. He is an Australian Championship medallist, trainer, assessor and coach.
"It's a very prestigious award and I'm so honoured to receive it," said Mat. "I'd like to thank all my friends and family. This is not my award, it's everyone's award especially those at Maroubra Surf Life Saving Club and my lifesaving team.
"The award means a lot to me. No one does what we do for recognition but it's fabulous. It shows that all the time and effort that we do put in means something. People say why do we do what we do, some of the best people that I've met are through Surf Life Saving.
"This award represents every lifesaver on the beach that puts countless hours into helping others and saving lives," said Mat.
Surf Life Saving NSW President George Shales said the evening was the perfect way to commend exceptional efforts among the 75,000 strong membership.
“Each year our volunteer surf lifesavers put hundreds of thousands of hours into protecting the public on our beaches,” said George.
“They display courage and bravery in some of the harshest conditions. They are innovators, leaders, educators, athletes, watermen and women. They are some of the most skilled first responders on the NSW coastline and we are delighted to recognise the best in each field at our Awards of Excellence.
“As the new season is about to begin, we look forward to our iconic red and yellow flags and volunteers returning to the beaches each weekend and on-call 24/7. Our 129 surf clubs will open their doors for another year,” he said.
The 2019 Surf Life Saving NSW Awards of Excellence, proudly presented by Port Authority of NSW was held at Dockside, Darling Harbour on Saturday 31 August 2019.
2019 Award Recipients
Official of the Year - Louis Tassone, North Curl Curl SLSC
Coach of the Year - Sean Golding, Sawtell SLSC
Surf Sports Team of the Year - Under 17 Male Board Relay, Swansea Belmont SLSC
Youth Athlete of the Year - Naomi Scott, Manly LSC
Masters Athlete of the Year - Paul Lemmon, Terrigal SLSC
Athlete of the Year - Jackson Borg, Newport SLSC
Junior Lifesaver of the Year (female) - Mikala Campbell, Ballina Lighthouse & Lismore SLSC
Junior Lifesaver of the Year (male) - Ainsley Dalton, Woolgoolga SLSC
Administrator of the Year - Michael Cameron, Taree-Old Bar SLSC
Services Team of the Year - Bondi Education Team, Bondi SBLSC
Youth Volunteer of the Year - Aidan Yourell, Evans Head Casino SLSC
Innovation Award - Development of Joint Operations Search and Rescue Capability, Far South Coast
Community Education Program of the Year - Maroubra Marlins, Maroubra SLSC
Trainer of the Year - Markus Meier-Lindner, Bulli SLSC
Assessor of the Year - Mike Le Geyt, South Curl Curl SLSC
Facilitator of the Year - Paul Duignan, Copacobana SLSC
Youth Surf Lifesaver of the Year - Kai Darwin, Umina Beach SLSC
Patrol Captain of the Year - Kaitlin Smith, Cudgen Headland SLSC
Patrol of the Year - Patrol 12, Umina Beach SLSC
Rescue of the Year - North Cronulla SLSC
President's Medal - Cheryl McCarthy, Bermagui SLSC
Lifeguard of the Year - Ben Dickens, Ballina
Branch of the Year - Far South Coast
Club of the Year - Umina Beach SLSC
Volunteer of the Year - Wendy Law, Broulee Surfers SLSC
Port Authority of NSW Surf Lifesaver of the Year - Mathew Harper, Maroubra SLSC
Sunday 1 September 2019