North coast surf clubs scoop up awards

Cudgen Headland clubbies show off their Club of the Year award at Saturday's Surf Lifesaving NSW Awards ceremony in Sydney. Photo Jamie Nilsson

Cudgen Headland clubbies show off their Club of the Year award at Saturday’s Surf Lifesaving NSW Awards ceremony in Sydney. Photo Jamie Nilsson

It was a big night for far north coast clubs at the 2015 Surf Life Saving NSW Awards of Excellence on Saturday night with the region claiming three awards including the prestigious Club of the Year.

Cudgen Headland SLSC took out the top club gong, whilst Brunswick youngster Brianna Clarkson and Ballina facilitator Rod Balkin were the other award recipients.

In recent seasons, Cudgen Headland has implemented a number of initiatives to strengthen the club’s ability to save lives and improve the experience of members into the future.

The club has recorded strong membership growth in recent seasons and is in the final stage of upgrading their facilities thanks to fundraising efforts and the support of the local community.

With Kingscliff Beach hosting the Australian IRB Titles again in 2017 the club is hoping that an IRB team will be able to contest the event on their home beach.

‘This award has been the culmination of a lot of hard work from so many people. When we made the made the decision to embrace the one club, one structure philosophy we knew it was going to be a long journey,’ club president Adam Mills said.

‘The plan has always been to strengthen and grow every part of the club. We’re very lucky as we have had great community support and the local council is extremely supportive to not only our club, but to the other clubs in the area as well.’

In April Brianna Clarkson was named the female winner of the prestigious Junior Lifesaver of the Year Award, which honours nippers in their final season who have made a significant contribution to lifesaving and has demonstrated leadership potential.

Briana has shown tremendous dedication to her club Brunswick Heads ever since she became a nipper, and despite living in Brisbane for the past three years still feels a sense of loyalty to her home club.

In 2014/15 Brianna assisted younger nippers in her role with water safety, worked in the canteen and barbecue, and was always willing to lend a helping hand to whoever needed it.

Brianna’s presence at Saturday’s glittering ceremony was the first time she was introduced to the wider lifesaving community that she wants to continue to embrace.

‘I definitely intend to stay with Brunswick Heads as it’s close to my heart. It’s a big commitment with the travel, but I love the club so it doesn’t ever feel like a chore,’ Brianna Clarkson said.

‘It is such an honour to receive this award in front of people who do so much for the community, and it really shows what is possible if you work hard and are prepared to learn.’

Rod Balkin (Ballina-Lighthouse) has been a key contributor in increasing the number of qualified facilitators and assessors in the far north coast branch through his ongoing mentoring of members, and was awarded the Facilitator of the Year gong for his efforts.

In addition to his facilitating duties, Rod continues to be a valuable asset on the beach having completed over 60 hours on patrol duties this season as well as being a member of the emergency on call roster.

Rod earned his 20-year patrol service award for his club this season, earned club life membership, and has recorded a remarkable 100 per cent patrol attendance in each of his years of service.

‘It has been a really big year on the far north coast in terms of increasing our facilitator intake, and I am really enjoying being a mentor for the new ones we have coming through,’ he said.

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