Surf lifesavers Alex Taylor and Jemima McGahey, who rescued Aref Emustapha at Seven Mile Beach in Booti Booti National Park. Both have received awards in recognition of the rescue. Picture: Dylan Robinson
Surf lifesavers Alex Taylor and Jemima McGahey, who rescued Aref Emustapha at Seven Mile Beach in Booti Booti National Park. Both have received awards in recognition of the rescue. Picture: Dylan Robinson

Coffs Clarence stars up for Surf Life Saving NSW Awards

ON SATURDAY night the state’s finest surf lifesavers will be honoured for their remarkable achievements during one of the most challenging seasons on record.

Usually held in Sydney, the 2020 Surf Life Saving NSW Awards of Excellence will go ahead as a virtual ceremony on Saturday night to be live streamed from 6.30pm.

As always, the Coffs Coast is well represented with Woolgoolga SLSC’s John Eyles will contest the Administration Award and fellow clubman Ted McCartney up for Coach of the Year.

Coffs Harbour SLSC’s Mark Beavis has been nominated for Trainer of the Year with fellow Coffs member Mark Gawne challenging for Official of the Year.

Urunga SLSC’s Louise Rodgers will be in the running for Volunteer of the Year while further north from the Clarence, Mark Aspinall of Red Rock-Corindi SLSC and Clement Sarrazin of Yamba SLSC are both going for Surf Lifesaver of the Year.

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

President of Surf Life Saving NSW, George Shales OAM, congratulated all the finalists and said that the benefit of the event going virtual meant more people could join the excitement.

“The Awards of Excellence is Surf Life Saving’s night of nights. The COVID-19 restrictions may have forced the awards to go virtual this year but happily it means that more of our 75,000-strong membership, from 129 surf clubs across NSW, can watch the action live online,” Shales said.

“The 2019/20 season was one of the toughest on record with the bushfires right along the NSW coast and the impact of coronavirus ending the summer patrol season early.

“We couldn’t be prouder of the way our volunteers displayed courage, bravery and resilience in some of the harshest conditions. 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 awards.”

Steven Pearce, CEO of Surf Life Saving NSW, said that despite the challenges faced during the 2019/20 season, Surf Life Saving volunteers rose to the occasion and 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, but this year our members’ response extended well beyond the beach into the wider community and our awards recognise this extraordinary contribution,” Pearce said.

The 2020 NSW Awards of Excellence will be streamed live online via the SLSNSW Facebook and YouTube pages, commencing at 6.30pm.



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