Skip to main content

The 2023 NSW Surf Lifesaver of the Year, Cheryl McCarthy believes her achievements over a decade within the movement – highlighted and recognised with the night’s top honour at the NSW Awards of Excellence on 26 August – all come down to passion.

Reflecting on the award after her name was read out at a gala presentation evening in front of nearly 500 of her peers, Cheryl was modest in her assessment of her big win; praising the calibre of the candidates she shared the category with and the overall dedication of the membership.

The SLSNSW Awards of Excellence celebrates the incredible people from within the organisation and the impact they have on their clubs, members, and their local communities – impacts exemplified by and, certainly, contributed to over an extended period by Cheryl’s efforts from the base at her club, Bermagui SLSC, on the Far South Coast.

She has occupied a laundry list of positions at club, branch, state, and national level and, further, in her Emergency Services role, is often the first point of contact for incidents in the region.

“What an amazing honour and so humbling to look around the room and see the number of incredible people, just to be mentioned alongside them is amazing so it’s all still sinking in,” Cheryl said.

“I think if you’re volunteering, you need to do it because there’s a smile on your face and because you love it and I genuinely do.

“I have taken so much joy out of my lifesaving journey, being down on the beach patrolling is just my happy place and I get a lot of fulfilment out of the emergency response side as well.

“My fellow lifesavers inspire me every day.”

Broulee Surfers at the 2023 NSW Awards of Excellence

Cheryl was one of three winners to come from the state’s seven southern-most clubs who make up the Far South Coast Branch, the first of which being Narooma SLSC’s Ben Bate who picked up the final individual lifesaving award of the evening – the Support Operations Member of the Year.

Sandwiched between Ben and Cheryl was the Club of the Year winner, Broulee Surfers SLSC – the announcement of which drew a raucous response from the room.

Indeed, the Far South Coast volunteers in attendance celebrated loud and long as each of the three winners were announced in a manifestation of the unity shared between the clubs.

“The Far South Coast is a really tight-knit group, and we all support each other,” Broulee Surfers President, Gary Pettigrove said.

“It’s very much a family in our region, when you’ve got such a big coastline to protect, it’s easy to all get along – everyone’s wins are your wins too and you celebrate them as such,” Nat Browning of Broulee Surfers agreed.

Each state winner will now progress through to be considered for national awards ahead of the Surf Life Saving Australia Awards of Excellence later this year.

Tuesday 29 August 2023