ON DUTY: Harrison Henwood has been named  Clarence Valley's Lifeguard of the Year in his inaugural season.
ON DUTY: Harrison Henwood has been named Clarence Valley's Lifeguard of the Year in his inaugural season. CONTRIBUTED

Rookie lifeguard rises to the top

A ROOKIE lifeguard's impressive first summer on the beach has had him honoured with the title of Clarence Valley Lifeguard of the Year.

Gold Coast university student Harrison Henwood was drawn to lifeguarding over summer after hearing of shortages in the area.

Having spent Christmas holidays in Yamba since he could remember, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to earn some cash.

"I got my gold medallion not long before the season started, but I've been in the Miami Beach Surf Lifesaving Club since I was five, so I still had the experience backing me,” Mr Henwood said.

It was this experience that contributed to a quick reaction to reports of a group in trouble at Pippi Beach on April 16.

"We were just about to pack up and I saw a guy running up waving his arms, saying there were two people needing help in front of The Sands,” Mr Henwood said.

"I told the other lifeguard to radio for help and I ran like hell not knowing what to expect.”

Three people, including a 14-year-old girl, had got into difficulty while swimming.

Mr Henwood sprinted for 500m with a rescue board then swam about 300m to the scene, pulling the teenager onto the board and retaining control on a solid wave back to shore.

By the time he got there, one person had managed to find their way out of trouble and the other was being helped by a member of the public.

Clarence Valley lifeguard supervisor Greg Wyllie was one of many impressed with the 19-year-old's efforts on the beach this season.

"Harrison's beach knowledge, skills and awareness are on par with any senior lifeguard that I have worked with over the years” Mr Wyllie said.

"He is always willing to go above and beyond to help out the service.

"He is a fantastic representative for the ALS and is richly deserving of this recognition.”

For his part, Mr Henwood said he would definitely be back on Clarence Valley soil this summer.

"(The award) is just a huge surprise, I'm honoured and I can't be any happier,” he said.

"I'm proud to know I've done my supervisor and the area proud. It's a great place and job.”

Mr Henwood is now eligible for the overall 2017 NSW Lifeguard of the Year Award.

A selection panel will nominate finalists, with the winner to be announced during the annual Awards of Excellence ceremony at Sydney's Hilton Hotel next month.

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