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National Award Winners 2015

Safety, excellence, courage and respect are values that have led surf lifeguards to save over 1,300 lives in the last season and tonight, their efforts were officially recognised at a formal award evening.  

The 2015 Surf Life Saving New Zealand Awards of Excellence was held at the Amora Hotel in Wellington and was hosted by TV presenter Stephen McIvor.

Every year, awards are given to Surf Life Saving members to officially recognise them for their hard work and dedication to Surf Life Saving in New Zealand.

Some of the night's top awards included NZ Lottery Grants Board Lifeguard of the Year, DHL Volunteer of the Year and the BP Surf Rescue of the Year.

NZ Lottery Grants Board Lifeguard of the Year was awarded to David Clarke from Palmerston North Surf Life Saving Club. The Lifeguard of the Year award is the pinnacle of surf lifesaving and Surf Life Saving New Zealand CEO Paul Dalton says this award highlights the skill, experience and dedication of the men and women who give up their time to make our beaches safer.

David demonstrates many characteristics that make him an exemplary volunteer Surf Lifeguard. He is both Club and Patrol Captain and has been involved in all aspects of the club's activities. Over the past season, he completed over 93 hours of voluntary patrol for Palmerston North SLSC as well as arranging cover of patrols at Foxton and Riversdale Surf Life Saving Clubs. The coverage at Riversdale was late in the season and yet they managed to provide 35 active lifeguard hours.

With a passion for power craft, he also looks after the IRB driver and crew training with an extensive training programme and the majority of the club's active lifeguards have an IRB qualification.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of our organisation and this year's DHL Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Paul Carlyon from Otaki Surf Life Saving Club.

As chairman, he is involved in every aspect of Otaki Surf Club and as Patrol Captain, he has actively patrolled at the weekends, volunteering a total of 40 hours as well as acting as an instructor at the National Lifeguard Schools in Fitzroy and Whiritoa.

He has also worked hard within his community, visiting the local primary school to encourage surf safety and promote surf lifesaving and he was instrumental in co-ordinating the BP IRB Click for your Club campaign that saw Otaki win a brand new IRB. Paul's community advocacy and work ethic shows his passion for Surf Life Saving.

Every year there are a number of significant rescues that take place on our beaches and these rescues literally save lives. Clubs across the country enter their most prominent rescue and they are judged against each other.

Mr Dalton says it's very difficult to choose one rescue over another as the actions of all the finalists have been incredibly heroic.

BP Rescue of the Year was awarded to Muriwai and Surf Life Saving Northern Region for the daring rescue of a surfer stuck in the caves near the Gannet Colony.

State Insurance Instructor of the Year was presented to Nick Mulcahy from Titahi Bay SLSC. Nick has worked with every patrol team at Titahi Bay to upskill members and improve the delivery of lifeguarding services. He is Chief Instructor, Patrol Captain and Patrol Co-ordinator, responsible for surf lifeguarding instruction, patrolling and development at Titahi Bay. His positive influence is evident through the club's increased patrol hours.

DHL Innovation of the Year was awarded to Foxton SLSC who set up a remote camera to assist with patrolling operations. The camera, which is manned and operated by patrol support members, has become an important part of patrolling at Foxton Beach.

Also awarded tonight was the BP Media Award for best surf lifesaving story. All organisations need media profile and none more so than not for profit organisations like Surf Life Saving. TVNZ Breakfast and Seven Sharp's combined coverage of the off-season Muriwai rescue gave credit where credit was due to the lifeguards involved. Their stories highlighted the efforts of the lifeguards involved and the dangers that those lifeguards put themselves in with each rescue.

A number of sport awards were awarded alongside the lifesaving awards.

For the third year in a row, Papamoa's Ross Merrett has been named Surf Official of the Year. Last season was a busy one for Ross who officiated for over 400 hours at 14 different events; four of these events were overseas.

Coach of the year was jointly awarded to Jason Pocock (Mairangi Bay) and Scott Bartlett (Omanu). The coaching duo led the Black Fins to the 2014 Lifesaving World Championships where they created history for being the first surf lifesaving team in New Zealand to win back to back world titles (2012/2014). Naturally, the team was also presented with the State Insurance International Sports Performance Award.

The Gudsell Trophy, awarded to the club with the highest number of Surf Lifeguard Awards gained, went to Mairangi Bay Surf Life Saving Club and the London Trophy, awarded to the club with the highest number of Surf Lifeguard Awards gained as a ratio of membership, went to Ngati Porou Surf Life Saving Club.

2015 Award winners:

• NZLGB Lifeguard of the Year: David Clarke, Palmerston North
• DHL Volunteer of the Year: Paul Carlyon, Otaki
• BP Rescue of the Year: Murwai & Northern Region
• State Insurance Instructor of the Year: Nick Mulcahy, Titahi Bay
• DHL Innovation of the Year: Foxton SLSC
• DHL Surf Official of the Year: Ross Merrett, Papamoa
• DHL Coach of the Year: Scott Bartlett (Omanu) & Jason Pocock (Mairangi Bay)
• State Insurance International Sports Performance: NZ Black Fins
• BP Media Award: TVNZ
• Gudsell Trophy: Mairangi Bay
• London Trophy: Ngati Porou

Service Awards:
• Robin Bigwood, Otaki
• Neil Bognuda, Worser Bay
• Michael Clarke, Lyall Bay
• Joel Davies, St Clair
• Grant Edwards, Spencer Park
• Adam Fraser, Fitzroy
• Lauren Gibbs, Bethells Beach
• Ian Godfrey, Waipu Cove
• Janine Ibbs, Sunset Beach
• Tai Kahn, Whangarei Heads
• Greg Larsen, Ocean Beach Kiwi
• Carla Laughton, St Clair
• Chris McCullough, Red Beach
• Rohan McNaughton, South Brighton
• Arie Moore, Lyall Bay
• Leza Papps, Lyall Bay
• Ross Peters, Fitzroy
• Dean Pouwhare, Red Beach
• Dave Shanks, Orewa
• Danielle Shepherd, Mt Maunganui
• Glennys Smith, Sunset Beach
• Dean Thomas, Kotuku

Distinguished Service Award:
• Deborah Hutchings, Waikanae

50 Year Badge:
• Ross Fraser, Fitzroy
• Roddy Freeman , Titahi Bay
• Brian Grace, Titahi Bay
• Stuart Keven, Sunset Beach
• Paul Knight, United North Piha
• Ewan Lang, Titahi Bay
• John Power, Fitzroy
• Paul Ryan, Fitzroy & Lyall Bay

Life Membership:
• Ross Doyle, Fitzroy
• Wayne Franich, Orewa
• Dave Price, North Beach
• Brent Warner, Mount Maunganui