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Clovelly SLSC member Imogen Barham hopes to use her Youth Volunteer of the Year award as a springboard for bigger and better things in the 2021/22 season, inspired now more than ever to continue giving back to the community that has given her so much.

The 17-year-old, who is currently preparing for her HSC exams in a few months’ time, is an embodiment of all that is good about Surf Life Saving, personifying the mission of saving lives, creating great Australians and building better communities.

More than 400 active patrol hours aside, which in itself is quite an achievement, she is a regular contributor to junior activities, member training, skill development courses and frontline patrolling and general lifesaving awareness – all of which contributed heavily to her being named Youth Volunteer of the Year.

“The recognition from winning has just acted as a motivator for me to want to do more this season,” she said.

“Being involved at my club and Surf Life Saving in general is all about coming together to help support the community and represent the best Aussie values for the love of it.

“I think it is our responsibility to support our future with everything that we’ve got as an organisation.”

That support, Imogen believes, needs to manifest itself in youth retention – fostering relationships, setting goals, being proactive in training and education and instilling a passion for growing within the club.

She believes that nurturing those coming through the ranks so that they progress on to active patrol will open social, educational and personal avenues for development.

“I love that volunteering on other patrols lets you meet so many new people and hear all their stories and make new connections,” she said.

“We have pilots and nurses and professors and chefs, and I have definitely been inspired by people I would have never have met as a 17-year-old otherwise.

“I also love patrolling with my mum. It’s a designated time that we get to spend together without worrying about being busy and we make a pretty good team.”

The life opportunities Surf Life Saving offers are a large part of what brings fellow volunteer and Coogee SLSC member, Doug Hawkins back each summer.

Named Facilitator of the Year at the Awards of Excellence on Saturday night, Doug’s passion for contributing to the educational direction of Surf Life Saving is felt state-wide.

His work in sculpting the current Silver Medallion Beach Management course to be deliverable in a one-day course, as well as creating a new, modern Scenario package, has allowed clubs across the state to focus on member welfare and community engagement, ensuring their resources are put into areas they are most needed.

“I’d been a surfer all my life, so before I joined Coogee my relationship with lifesavers was them chasing us out of the flags,” he mused.

“Now I’ve been involved for more than 20 years, and I’d never look back.”

As a Facilitator, Doug leads by example and understands the need for engaging training and education – particularly given the role lifesavers play on our beaches.

“With the priority on member welfare, leading well, properly and effectively has never been more important,” he said.

“Patrolling members have the biggest job within the organisation, that’s the truth. They have the responsibility, big day or small day, whatever it is, to be out there on the beach.

“Their training has to be high level, they need to feel like they’re walking out of it with confidence.”

Sydney Branch had winners in other categories, and was named the Branch of the Year on the back of its outstanding season in the face of a global pandemic.


Ali Najem, Wanda SLSC – Athlete of the Year

Phillip Carter, Maroubra SLSC – Assessor of the Year

Doug Hawkins, Coogee SLSC – Facilitator of the Year

Scott Thomson, North Bondi SLSC – Masters Athlete of the Year

Imogen Barham, Clovelly SLSC – Youth Volunteer of the Year

Sydney Branch – Branch of the Year

Tuesday 31 August 2021