My Beach

Recognising the dedication and service of its members over the past year, Surf Life Saving Western Australia (SLSWA) wrapped up another successful season at its annual Awards of Excellence at Crown Perth on Saturday night.

Celebrating outstanding contributions and achievements from SLSWA members, including volunteer lifesavers, athletes and all those who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the success of their clubs, SLSWA President Craig Smith-Gander paid tribute to the many volunteers who spent their weekends on beaches across our State.

It is about celebrating all the volunteers who are the lifeblood of this great movement.

During the 2017/18 season, these volunteer surf lifesavers spent in excess of 119,000 hours patrolling our beaches performing more than 550 rescues, 2,842 first aids and 14,750 preventative actions.

These people are the everyday heroes of our beaches, all of whom commit countless hours of service to uphold our mission of saving lives and creating great communities”.

Among the major award winners was Liam Burke from the Fremantle Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) and Andrew Manning from the Mullaloo SLSC who jointly took out the AGL Lifesaver of the Year category.

This year’s two outstanding winners were deemed impossible to separate by the judging committee, with both nominees demonstrating exceptional achievements worthy of recognition.

Liam has used his 18 years of experience in the surf lifesaving movement to make a tremendous impact at club level during the past season. Through his role as Patrol Captain, he has been a strong leader and mentor to his fellow clubbies, encouraging members to upskill wherever possible.

Joint winner Andrew had similar success over the year, including playing a valuable role in the coordination of volunteer lifesaving abalone patrols during the 2017/18 season. These patrols were involved in a multitude of preventative actions; potentially saving the lives of many abalone fishermen.

Jackson Symonds (Sorrento SLSC) took out his fourth Athlete of the Year Award, capping off a huge season which also saw him enter the Australian history books as the first athlete in over 50 years to win a fourth Australian title in the Open Beach Sprint. A consistent performer on the beach, Jackson took gold and silver in the Open Beach Flags and Open Beach Sprint respectively at this year’s WA Championships and will shortly head to Japan as a representative on the Australian Lifesaving Team, along with Youth Athlete of the Year recipient Jake Smith (Trigg Island SLSC).

Mullaloo Surf Life Saving Club in particular came away a winner on the evening, taking home the Patrol Club of the Year award, in addition to members receiving the Official, LifeSaver, Volunteer and Assessor of the Year Awards, while Denmark Surf Life Saving Club took home the Lavan Surf Life Saving Club of the Year Award.

Mr. Smith–Gander also took the opportunity to introduce recently crowned mountaineering world record holder Steve Plain as the new Surf Life Saving WA fundraising ambassador.  Having broken his neck while swimming at Cottesloe Beach in 2014, Steve credits Cottesloe volunteer surf lifesavers Lara and Gary Matier with saving his life after they pulled him from the water.

Steve has just returned to Perth having achieved a world speed record of summiting the highest mountain on each of the seven continents – which included Everest and Kilimanjaro – in under 4 months while raising money and awareness for Surf Life Saving WA and Spinalcure.

The winners of the following awards will go on to represent WA at the Surf Life Saving Australia Awards of Excellence later this year: Official, Coach, Athlete, Trainer, Assessor, Youth Lifesaver, AGL Lifesaver, AGL Volunteer and Lavan Club of the Year.