Surf Life Saving NSW awards

Award: Wanda SLSC athlete Ali Najem winning the 2021 Australian 2km Beach Run on the Sunshine Coast.Picture John Veage
Award: Wanda SLSC athlete Ali Najem winning the 2021 Australian 2km Beach Run on the Sunshine Coast.Picture John Veage

Surf Life Saving NSW's volunteers were celebrated recently with their Awards of Excellence which saw its network of volunteers recognised in a big night online.

In the Surf Sports category, two-kilometre Beach Run World and multiple Australian champion Ali Najem from Wanda SLSC was named the Athlete of the Year for 2021.

Ali thanked Cronulla trainer Jock Campbell and said its been a hell of a ride and after nine years they are still just getting started.

While part of the spectacle of the annual event was put on hold as COVID-19 restrictions limited the ability to bring the Surf Life Saving community together, a Facebook premiere looked back with great affection and appreciation on the efforts of the past year.

Surf Life Saving NSW president George Shales OAM said the nominees were outstanding and that judging panels had their work cut out for them.

"With a membership of more than 75,000 in NSW, we have no shortage of amazing volunteers we need to recognise and it is extremely difficult to choose just a handful of people who have gone above and beyond in the last season," George Shales said.

Shales said the virtual awards presentation was a great success and, while a number of worthy winners were announced, it was a great occasion to recognise the collective efforts of volunteers across the state.

"There's no doubt we've had a tough season," he said.

"What was articulated though, is the success despite the difficulty of the pandemic.

"Having the ability to provide the public with the opportunity to visit the beaches throughout last summer was a great success, and when I look at the results achieved by Surf Life Saving NSW, I'm really proud."

Sydney Branch was awarded the Branch of the Year on the back of its all-round strength in lifesaving, governance, education and junior activities and Helensburgh-Stanwell Park SLSC, in the Illawarra Branch, was named NSW Club of the Year.