5 September 2023

South Coast lifesavers ride wave of success at annual statewide awards

| Claire Sams
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Cheryl McCarthy was named Surf Lifesaver of the Year in what was a big night for South Coast lifesavers. Photo: Surf Life Saving NSW.

Years of hard work in various positions have resulted in recognition at statewide awards for South Coast lifesavers.

In late August, Surf Life Saving NSW’s annual Awards of Excellence recognised the work and dedication of the state’s lifesavers, with Cheryl McCarthy from Bermagui Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) taking home the 2023 Surf Lifesaver of the Year award.

“It’s a lovely honour, but it was very unexpected,” she said.

“It’s a big state and we’re just one really small part of it down here on the coast.”

But Ms McCarthy wasn’t the only person to represent the Far South Coast at the annual awards.

Broulee Surfers was named Surf Life Saving Club of the Year, while Ben Bate from Narooma SLSC took the gong for Support Operations Member of the Year.

group of award winners on stage

Broulee Surfers was named Surf Life Saving Club of the Year. Photo: Surf Life Saving NSW.

“We had 30 people from across the Far South Coast attending across three tables,” Ms McCarthy said.

“It was great to be able to share the ceremony with good mates.”

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Ms McCarthy has volunteered with Surf Life Saving NSW for 10 years, including time spent with state programs and working groups.

She currently serves as secretary of and training officer at Bermagui Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC), and has recently finished a five-year tenure as director of the Far South Coast branch.

“In that time, we’ve had several searches, we’ve had the Black Summer bushfires hit our region very hard, and then COVID followed, which everyone experienced,” Ms McCarthy said.

“It’s been a bit of a ride, but the thing that stuck out to me was the incredible professionalism and commitment of the lifesavers.

“No matter what was thrown at us, people just stepped up and did whatever they could to support their community, so it was a real pleasure being involved.”

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Ms McCarthy said the hard work and support of her fellow Bermagui SLSC members had been key in serving their local community.

“I couldn’t have done it without the support of the many people working beside me,” she said.

“These awards are never just about one person – it’s always a big team effort that goes into people’s seen success.

“The team at Bermagui is an incredible bunch of people. They’re a highly skilled group of lifesavers and they’ve had my back the entire time I’ve been there.”

For Ms McCarthy, the future looks like her being at the beach, helping to keep her community safe in the water.

“I love being down at the beach, patrolling between the flags,” she said.

“That’s my happy place.

“I can see myself being involved as a patroller here, and involved as a duty officer and a trainer for a long time to come, hopefully.”

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