Surf Lifesavers from the Far South Coast had a night to remember at lifesaving’s night of nights in Sydney last weekend, as they returned home with five trophies to cap what has been an extraordinary, and at times challenging, season.
Local lifesavers were recognised at the Awards of Excellence with wins in the member services, education, and lifesaving categories, while the branch itself took out an overall award after being crowned the 2018 Branch of the Year ahead of other strong contenders Central Coast and Sydney.
With its beautiful beaches and proximity to the nation’s capital, the Far South Coast has always been a popular place for people looking to escape the brunt of summer.
With no Nippers opportunities, Broulee Surfers SLSC Club wanted to ensure that the people of Canberra and surrounding area had access to world class beach education in their home town. This partnership has been enthusiastically embraced by surf lifesavers and beyond.
For their successful season, the Canberra-Broulee Nippers Club was named the Community Education Program of the Year.
“Last year we had such a huge response we had to turn people away because of the demand from Canberra people wanting to learn more about safety, and for their kids to get more confident in the water,” said Wendy Law.
“We’ve had a lot of support from the Broulee Surf Club,” added Steve Corcoron whose children both participated in the program.
Lifesavers Broulee Surfers, Batemans Bay and Moruya took out the Rescue of the Year Award after they teamed up to save multiple people when a boat tragically capsized while trying to negotiate the notorious Moruya River bar.
The rescued patients were ferried to shore by Jetski, IRB and a Marine Rescue vessel with the lifesavers making multiple trips and providing initial first aid treatment, while their professionalism and compassion under very challenging circumstances later earning widespread praise.
Bermagui’s Cheryl McCarthy is a woman who wears many hats, with her latest being the state’s top administrator.
Not only is Cheryl the Secretary of Bermagui SLSC, she is also the Far South Coast assistant director of lifesaving, the chair of SLSA alumni in NSW, patrolled 120 hours this season, and played a key role in the evacuation centre activation for Bermagui SLSC during the Tathra bushfires.
Exemplary service during March’s devastating fires was a recurring theme throughout the evening, with the call-out teams from Tathra, Bermagui and Pambula announced as winners of the Services Team of the Year Award.
On March 18, the Tathra SLSC and Pambula SLSC teams took to the water on the beaches, and in the river at Tathra, while the Bermagui SLSC call-out team responded to a request from NSW Police to open the club house as an evacuation centre eventually housing more than 300 residents.
In 2017/18 almost half the surf clubs based in the Far South Coast were running a program for people living with a disability, and with a strong presence in the local community as well, it’s shaping up to be another super summer for the branch.
These efforts, combined with a 27 per cent decrease in rescues thanks to a renewed emphasis on preventative actions, saw the Far South Coast take out the highest branch prize on offer.
Far South Coast Branch President Tony Rettke felt it was a vindication for the efforts everyone in the branch has been contributing in recent summers.
“This really is a great feeling for all of our lifesavers,” he said. “I think what sets us apart from other branches is we don’t really compete against each other as clubs, and see ourselves as part of a wider team.
“We do so much together such as competition, training, and I really feel that our branch and as an organisation, we are getting stronger all the time. We have a lot of hard working directors and people.”
NSW Surf Life Saving Awards of Excellence – Far South Coast Recipients
· Administrator of the Year – Cheryl McCarthy (Bermagui SLSC)
· Services Team of the Year – Tathra, Bermagui & Pambula Call-Out Teams
· Community Education Team of the Yea – Canberra-Broulee Nippers
· Rescue of the Year- Broulee Surfers, Moruya, & Batemans Bay Support Operations
· Branch of the Year – Far South Coast