The contributions of four lifesavers from the far North Coast have been recognised with major awards from Surf Life Saving NSW in Sydney recently.
Patrol Captain of the year went to Kaitlin Smith from Cudgen Headland Surf Life Saving Club.
With ten years experience, Smith dedicates her time to patrolling Kingscliff Beach. She has been Patrol Captain since the age of 17.
She said, ‘My mum and dad put me in Nippers when I was five. The pathways to learning about the ocean, competing and then moving into being a lifeguard and being a patrol captain and learning more skills and educating the public is a very big part of my life.’
Lifeguard of the Year went to Ben Dickens from Ballina Shire. ‘I get the honour of putting up the flags every day on the beach,’ Dickens said. ‘To be able to do that is an honour – and to protect the community.’
As a skilled jetski operator between Lennox Head and Ballina, Dickens has displayed bravery at countless rescues, providing a professional service to councils on behalf of the Australian Lifeguard Service.
The Youth Volunteer of the Year was Aidan Yourell of the Evans Head-Casino SLSC, described as a ‘personification of the modern Surf Life Saving Movement’.
Yourell completed an extraordinary 200 volunteer patrol hours last season. He is a key mentor in the local Nippers program and has achieved five separate awards this season.
Junior Lifesaver of the Year went to Mikala Campbell of the Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore SLSC. She enjoys competing in team events and received her first Surf Rescue Certificate earlier this year.
A keen member since she joined the Under Sevens, Campbell’s energy and enthusiasm continue to inspire her fellow club members of all ages.
Almost 500 of Surf Life Saving’s most outstanding lifesavers, athletes, educators coaches and administrators from around the state celebrated the 2019 awards.