The 2023 Surf Life Saving WA Awards of Excellence was held on Saturday, 1 July 2023.

Read more about the night here and view photos here.

Surf Lifesaver of the Year

Awarded to: Laurie Mott (Sorrento SLSC)

Laurie is a long-serving member of Sorrento Surf Life Saving Club and currently holds roles as a Patrol Captain, Trainer, Assessor, and in charge of Special Projects.

In addition to supporting and developing his club patrol team, his contributions as Coordinator of the Metro Zone Abalone Patrol have been significant, introducing new initiatives around the use of additional safety equipment and improvements in communications with other emergency service providers to improve patrolling member safety and the ability to respond to emergencies.

Laurie’s leadership, expertise, and dedication to mentoring and training other members have had a significant impact on the safety of West Australian Surf Lifesavers and the beach-going public.

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Young Surf Lifesaver of the Year

Awarded to: Mitchell Shackles (Secret Harbour SLSC)

Mitchell joined Secret Harbour as an under-6 nipper and, over the years, has completed nearly all patrolling awards available to him.

As part of his Club’s cadet leadership group, he has mentored Secret Harbours’ cadets and, last season, was appointed a Club Vice Captain, where he represents the club’s youth members at Board Meetings.

Mitchell consistently seeks opportunities to develop his skills and then share these skills with other members. Last season, having completed his Rescue Water Craft Operators Certificate, Mitchell then volunteered to assist in delivering this training to other volunteers.

He also took on the role of his Patrol’s Vice Captaincy, completed more than 80 patrol hours, was the Area Coordinator for Abalone patrols and participated in inter-agency Marine Rescue exercises.

As a young lifesaver, Mitchell takes on all roles with the utmost maturity, consistently modelling high standards in all he does.

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Volunteer of the Year

Awarded to: John King OAM (Floreat SLSC)

John has been a long-serving member of Surf Life Saving in Western Australia, having been made a Life Member in 2002, and he continues to volunteer both at his club and for the wider Surf Life Saving community to this day.

John’s volunteering spans all pillars of the movement as he coaches, trains and assesses, acts as a Senior Official and, most importantly, helps mentor, develop and care for other members.

This caring for others was demonstrated recently when John took on the responsibility of looking after the welfare of a fellow club stalwart when their health declined. John’s contributions are felt by many.

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Coach of the Year

Awarded to: Michael Booth (Sorrento SLSC)

As the Head Surf Sports Coach at Sorrento, Michael has made a significant impact, with his dedication and vision leading the growth and development of athletes and coaches at the club.

Drawing on his experiences as a competitive athlete, Michael’s coaching has resulted in improved performance, increased participation, and a strong sense of community at Sorrento.

Not only has his leadership brought tangible improvements in results and athlete retention, but he has also been instrumental in expanding the club’s coach education program. Through mentorship and guidance, he has empowered coaches to enhance their skills and contribute to the overall success of the club. Michael’s passion, expertise, and unwavering commitment have made a lasting impact on Sorrento’s surf sports community, propelling the club to new levels of success.

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Young Volunteer of the Year

Awarded to: Angus Bowles (Albany SLSC)

Angus is a great role model who shows dynamic leadership at Albany Surf Life Saving Club. He has been instrumental in delivering a club-based youth-led Officials Program to support the delivery of the Woodside Nippers Program each Sunday, while during the week, he has committed his time to coach Nippers in a range of surf sports disciplines.

As a patrolling lifesaver, Angus demonstrates maturity and professionalism and is well respected by his peers and trusted by the public.

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Lavan Club of the Year

Awarded to: Swanbourne Nedlands SLSC

Swanbourne Nedlands had a year of success across all four pillars of Surf Life Saving. They have just completed their best season in Surf Sports and whilst in the middle of a building program, they have managed to impressively have steady growth in membership with a strong Nipper and Youth focus.

2nd – Fremantle Surf Life Saving Club

3rd – City of Bunbury Surf Life Saving Club

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Patrol Club of the Year

Awarded to: City of Bunbury SLSC

The City of Bunbury Surf Life Saving Club is one of the oldest clubs in WA, providing patrolling services across two beaches while extending the footprint of their roving patrols.

To help achieve compliance and improve the quality of their patrols, the Club implemented numerous new initiatives, including restructuring its patrol teams for the season, introducing a mentoring scheme and a flexible rostering system, being proactive in upskilling members’ awards and providing members with access to fitness programs.

With an eye to servicing the community’s needs, Bunbury has provided water safety for various events, from surf life saving carnivals to external community events, and has developed relationships with several external organisations to help improve community beach safety and awareness.

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Trainer of the Year

Awarded to: Shelly Rourke (Busselton SLSC)

Shelly has been a Club Trainer at Busselton for nine seasons and continues to make an outstanding contribution and commitment to training for her club and other clubs in the South West region.

This season, Shelly has delivered club training for the Surf Rescue Certificate, Bronze Medallion, Nipper Rescue Certificate, Advanced Resuscitation and First Aid awards, as well as conducting training sessions with external agencies, including Volunteer Marine Rescue, SES and St John Ambulance.

Shelly also assists with training and re-qualification of awards for other South West clubs, including delivery of the Surf Rescue Certificate and Bronze Medallion for Smiths Beach, and she established an Annual Training and Education Camp for all six South West clubs.

In addition to training activities, Shelly holds several other Committee and Officer positions with her Club and is a frequent patrolling member and Patrol Captain.

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Assessor of the Year

Awarded to: Peter Saunders (Geraldton SLSC)

Peter joined Geraldton Surf Life Saving Club in 1968 and became an Assessor in 2001. He is currently an Assessor for the Surf Rescue Certificate, Bronze Medallion and IRB, and a Facilitator for Advanced Resuscitation.

As an Assessor in the Midwest, Peter assists a number of other regional clubs with achieving their volunteer awards and Skills Maintenance requirements, particularly for IRB assessments.

He also uses his time to mentor other assessors as well as trainers, patrol members, junior members and everyone involved in the Surf Club. This is instrumental in contributing to the high standing the Geraldton Surf Club has in local communities.

In addition to assessing for awards, Peter assists as an Assessor for competition events, including Champion Lifesaver at the Local, State and National level.

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Support Operations Volunteer of the Year

Awarded to: David Kordic (North Cottesloe SLSC)

David has been a valuable member of the Lifesaver Jet Ski Team for many years and is held in high regard by his peers.

At his Club, he oversees a well-recognised and managed Jet Ski Program and is always engaged and responsive, happy to discuss issues and ideas relating to the program. He has been actively involved and invested in Abalone Patrol for many seasons, reviewing and providing critical input into Local Operating Plans and mentoring and assisting the other Jet Ski Operators.

David willingly contributes across a range of lifesaving matters to improve service delivery, particularly from a risk management perspective. His input and contributions to the wider Support Operations Group are highly valued.

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Official of the Year

Awarded to: Roger Nowell (Sorrento SLSC)

Roger has been a prominent figure in WA surf sports events, having dedicated his time to officiating for over a decade, his commitment and expertise having a significant impact on the smooth running of numerous competitions.

This season, Roger took on the role of Sectional Referee at the Nipper Qualifiers, Little Nipper, and Nipper Championships. He also served as a finish judge at the Australian Championship in the main arenas.

Roger’s impact extends beyond just his officiating duties. He has taken on the role of mentor, providing guidance and support to new officials, including our youth. Roger’s skills, flexibility, and adaptability have made him a valuable asset across a wide range of events throughout the season.

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Young Athlete of the Year

Awarded to: Imogen Herrington (City of Perth SLSC)

Imogen had an exceptional season, dominating the beach sprint and flag events. At the 2023 SunSmart WA Championships, she took gold in the U19 flags and beach sprints and gold in the Open Beach Sprint. Her outstanding performance earned her a place on the Western Suns State Representative Team.

At the 2023 Australian Championships, Imogen continued to impress, taking silver in the U19 sprints and as a member of the U19 female beach relay team, demonstrating her speed and teamwork. She also took bronze in the U19 flags.

Imogen’s dedication, skill, and determination have made her a standout competitor in the surf life saving community.

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Athlete of the Year

Awarded to: Jake Smith (Trigg Island SLSC)

Jake’s outstanding achievements over the past season included three individual gold Australian Pool Rescue Medals in the Open Rescue Medley, 100-metre Manikin Tow and the 50-metre Manikin Carry, setting Australian records in all three along the way.

He was also a pivotal player in the Trigg Island Relay Teams, contributing to their three gold medal victories and establishing Australian records in the process.

Jake’s exceptional talent and dedication led to his selection as a member of the Australian team to compete at the World Lifesaving Championships in Italy. He continued to impress, coming away with two individual and three team gold medals, solidifying his status as a true champion.

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Surf Sports Team of the Year

Awarded to: Open Male Double Ski Team of Jesse Phillips and Steve Bird (North Cottesloe SLSC)

At the 2023 Australian Championships held in Scarboro this year, Jesse and Steve proved their exceptional skills in the fiercely competitive Open Male Double Ski category.

Featuring more than 60 teams battling for a finals position and spot on the podium, the accomplished Olympic paddling duo posted outstanding performances in the heats and semi-finals to position themselves well for the final stage of the competition, which saw them take out the championship title in a hard-fought battle against some of the best ski paddlers in the country.

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Community Education Program of the Year

Awarded to: Sea Lions Program (North Cottesloe SLSC)

The Sea Lions program commenced in 2022 to actively engage teens with disabilities in Surf Life Saving by developing surf skills and awareness. In the 8-week program, teens are given the opportunity to try something new, develop valuable water safety skills, build confidence, and become part of a supportive and connected community.

The program has overcome several challenges to proceed and has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants, families and volunteers. Not only the teens and their families benefit from this program but also the club members who volunteer and the broader community.

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Age Manager of the Year

Awarded to: Rebecca Tibbels (Coogee Beach SLSC)

As an Age Group Manager, Rebecca proactively engages with her club, peers, program participants and their parents to ensure the best possible experience for all involved.

Last season, Rebecca managed the Coogee Beach U13 Age Group. She has worked with the same group for five seasons and intends to continue with the group as they transition into the youth ranks. She has recruited Assistant Age Managers for her group to ensure they can take on responsibilities and provide continuity should she be unavailable one Sunday morning.

Rebecca delivered the club’s start-of-season Age Manager training session and also assisted in training and mentoring new Age Managers throughout the season, a role that has been very important to the growth and development of the Woodside Nippers Program at Coogee Beach.

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Woodside Nippers Club of the Year

Awarded to: Quinns Mindarie SLSC

Quinns Mindarie has worked exceptionally hard over the past season to improve the delivery of its Woodside Nippers Program.

Drawing on feedback received via member surverys and end of season reviews, a number of new initiatives were implemented to help drive the program’s success, including additional training and mentoring for new Age Managers and engaging the club’s youth to assist in program delivery and to help smooth the transition from Nippers to youth.

For Nippers with an interest in Surf Sports, additional coaching sessions were provided as an opportunity to develop and improve their skills. The extra work paid off, with Quinns Mindarie being named the most improved club at the 2023 SunSmart WA Nipper Championships.

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Woodside Nippers Program Coordinator of the Year

Awarded to: Kevin Duguid (Trigg Island SLSC)

Kevin has held the role of Woodside Nippers Coordinator at Trigg Island for several years, and he continues to invest in the program by introducing new initiatives based on member and parent feedback.

Of particular importance to Kevin is the transition of the Under 13 members to the youth age groups. He works closely with the Age Managers to ensure the Nippers are engaged and have a good understanding of what the Youth Program will offer them and provides additional teamwork and leadership opportunities to assist with the transition.

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Woodside Nippers Program Volunteer of the Year

Awarded to: Richard Swinnerton (Quinns Mindarie SLSC)

Always the first on the beach, Richard commences his Club Sundays at 6:30 am. After conducting a risk assessment, he goes about setting up the program equipment and ensuring each age group bucket and kit are ready for the day ahead. As others arrive, he briefs them on the conditions and any variations he has put in place for the day. At the conclusion of the day’s program, Richard leads the beach pack down, ensuring any damaged equipment is set aside for repair and logged accordingly.

Richard’s day finishes at around 12:30 pm, meaning each Sunday, he provides six hours of voluntary service to ensure the safe and professional delivery of his Club’s Woodside Nippers Program.

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Bernie Kelly Medal

Awarded to: Soraya Lee (Mullaloo SLSC)

Soraya’s exceptional performance at the 2023 SunSmart WA Surf Life Saving Championships saw her take home three individual gold, plus gold and three bronze in team events.

While Soraya has long been recognised for her prowess in surf racing, for which she took out the gold medal, along with gold in the Surf Belt event, her standout performance at this year’s championships was in the Open Ironwoman, where showcasing her skill and determination, she led from start to finish to take the win.

Soraya was also a key member of multiple Mullaloo teams, which saw them take gold in the Female Surf Teams and bronze in the Three Person Taplin, Board Rescue and Rescue Tube Rescue events.


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