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Awards roll in for our sensational lifesavers
by Mornington Peninsula Magazine

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The Point Leo Surf Life Saving Club’s Lion’s Den youth program was named Outstanding Achievement of the Year.

The calibre of Mornington Peninsula’s lifesavers has been highlighted with an incredible haul of honours at last month’s Life Saving Victoria 2021 Awards of Excellence. Portsea Surf Life Saving Club’s Chris Perrott and Andrew May won Lifesaver and Youth Lifesaver of the Year respectively, while Point Leo SLSC’s Lion’s Den youth program won Outstanding Achievement of the Year.

Sarah McNamara was named the Beach Lifeguard of the Year, and Mornington Life Saving Club’s Remme Mason took out the Mike Martin AM Champion Junior Lifesaver Award. Mount Martha LSC’s Kaya Cook was named Official of the Year, and Point Leo’s Georgia Cassell Ashton the Emerging Official of the Year. To top it off, the Mount Martha and Portsea clubs shared the Administration Club of the Year Award.

Outstanding Achievement of the Year – Lion’s Den youth program (Point Leo SLSC): This two-year program bridges the gap between when youth lifesavers complete their surf rescue certificate and their bronze medallion. The club’s junior lifesaving co-ordinator, Sarah-Jo Mason, said the program helped to create a clearer pathway for youth members, keeping them engaged with the club once they had finished Nippers. “The Lion’s Den program increased the participation of our 14 and 15-year-old members during COVID,” Sarah-Jo said. “It was also about supporting youth mental health and providing social opportunities during a time many people were feeling isolated from their regular hobbies and interactions due to COVID. We saw our under-15s and under-16s coming down to the club to participate in activities they wouldn’t normally do, so they were not only connected with one another but with the rest of the club.”

Lifesaver of the Year Chris Perrott.

Lifesaver of the Year – Chris Perrott (Portsea SLSC): Chris has served as the club’s director of lifesaving for the past two seasons and was behind a series of changes that saw Portsea record its highest number of patrolling members in a season. He has also accepted a three-year contract with the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service. “I am incredibly humbled,” Chris said. “Being Lifesaver of the Year is an incredible achievement and something I never thought I would achieve, but for me lifesaving has been such an amazing experience that has given me opportunities to meet others, make great friends and contribute back to your community.” The award is in memory of Sorrento-Portsea SLSC member John Wishart, who was taken by a shark off Portsea beach in 1956.

Youth Lifesaver of the Year – Andrew May (Portsea SLSC): As well as serving as director for the general and operation committees and chief instructor for bronze medallion camps, Andrew co-ordinated thousands of volunteers as chief of water safety for the Portsea Swim Classic and Pier 2 Perignon swim events and served as Portsea’s lifesaving operations council representative. He also took on the lead role in patrolling one of the Peninsula’s busiest beaches, and was integral in reviving Portsea’s inflatable racing boat team that picked up seven medals at the recent Victorian IRB Championships, as Mornington Peninsula Magazine reported in our August edition. “Being a lifesaver is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have in life,” Andrew said. “There are not many communities out there like lifesaving that have such a positive impact on so many people and ultimately save lives.”

Youth Lifesaver of the Year Andrew May.

Beach Lifeguard of the Year Sarah McNamara.

Beach Lifeguard of the Year – Sarah McNamara: In her fifth season as a lifeguard on the Peninsula, Sarah says leading and upskilling four fellow lifeguards this season was a privilege and delight. Initially one of the youngest in the Australian Lifeguard Service, Sarah is now seen as one of its most experienced and reliable lifeguards.

Mike Martin AM Champion Junior Lifesaver – Remme Mason: Remme is a highly valued member of Mornington LSC, volunteering in many capacities while showing all the elements of an emerging lifesaving leader as well as always being willing to help her peers.

Mike Martin AM Champion Junior Lifesaver Remme Mason.

Kaya Cook, left, was named Official of the Year.

Official of the Year – Kaya Cook (Mount Martha LSC): Kaya has held her Surf Official accreditation since 2015 and is now qualified as a senior official and able to act in the roles of chief judge and carnival referee. She has assisted with training and mentoring of new officials for the past decade and this season officiated at many carnivals, including the Victorian championships in particularly challenging weather conditions where she ensured there were adequate safety protocols in place for a safe competition. 

Emerging Official of the Year – Georgia Cassell Ashton (Point Leo SLSC): This was Georgia’s first year as a technical official, and at the Victorian championships she was the nominated area risk and response officer for the open women’s area and the ARRO at the Masters state titles. Georgia has already left an impressive mark on competitions using her tenacity to make decisions about competitions and races that have helped to keep events running.

Administration Club of the Year – Mount Martha LSC and Portsea SLSC: This award encourages and recognises outstanding achievements in club administration.

State Services Long Service Awards: Ray Webb (Gunnamatta SLSC) 10 years; Hamish McKendrick (Portsea SLSC) and Donna Watt (Gunnamatta SLSC) five years.

Emerging Official of the Year Georgia Cassell Ashton.

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