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Friday, 17, December 2021

Nippers is now finally underway at almost one hundred NSW beaches, thanks to support from Newcastle Permanent.

There was cause for extra celebration at the launch of this year’s season with the signing of three year funding extensions for Surf Life Saving Club branches. The new agreements mean Newcastle Permanent is continuing to support every surf life saving club from the Central Coast to the NSW/Queensland border.

At the Hunter’s season launch, Hunter Surf Life Saving (SLS) CEO Rhonda Scruton said the funding will help provide equipment and training to protect beachgoers and assist with the recruitment, training and retention of junior surf lifesavers.

She said Newcastle Permanent’s support for Hunter Surf Life Saving, which this summer hits 40 years, has been invaluable in training and developing future life savers.

“Our four-decade long partnership with Newcastle Permanent has given our region’s young people vital skills in and out of the water, and no doubt saved countless lives,” Rhonda said.

“Nippers also gives young people personal development, leadership and team work skills,” she said.

“It takes a lot of funding and resources to provide surf life saving services and programs like Nippers, so our ongoing partnership with Newcastle Permanent is vital.”

Newcastle Permanent CEO Bernadette Inglis said volunteer life savers do an incredible job and are fundamental to the fabric of the community.

”As a proud customer-owned organisation, supporting and contributing to local communities that support us, is part of who we are today and into the future,” Bernadette said.

“It’s wonderful that local families invest their time to support their children to learn lifelong surf safety skills, and a lot of these children will grow and take on roles to keep our community safe while we enjoy a day at the beach in years to come.“

Nippers learn lifesaving and CPR, as well as surf safety, awareness, and rescue skills while completing fun surf sport activities such as catching waves, board paddling, beach sprints and flags.

Newcastle Permanent’s support for life saving is part of our annual investment of almost $1.5 million into local communities through our partnerships, employee donations, volunteering and fundraising programs.

Nippers skills the next generation of beach life-savers

Riley Petherbridge – Newcastle

Joining in to officially launch the season was Hunter Youth Surf Lifesaver of the Year and Newcastle Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) member, Riley Petherbridge.

The 18 year-old Macquarie College student joined Newcastle SLSC in January 2019, completing his Bronze Medallion that year and his Silver Medallion in 2020. He volunteers more than 100 hours a year doing patrols, helps out at Nippers, and also volunteered with the Hunter surf life saving team that assisted with the Upper Hunter floods last month.

Mr Petherbridge said his mum Melissa was a Nipper and surf life saver and many of his family are involved in surf life saving. “Nippers is such an important program that needs community support and funding because it teaches kids surf safety,” Riley said.

“It’s also is the training ground for future surf life savers who help keep everyone safe at the beach,” he said.

“A Nipper can advise an entire group about the safest way to use the surf. One trained nipper or lifesaver has the ability to save many lives.”

Ollie Byrne – South West Rocks

Another future life saver is 14 year old South West Rocks resident, Ollie Byrne.

Ollie did Nippers for six years and has now completed his Surf Rescue Certificate and will be patrolling South West Rocks’ beaches to keep locals and tourists safe this summer.

Ollie’s Nippers skills were no doubt helpful when in January he rescued a young boy at Horseshoe Beach. He rode to the beach with friends late one weekday afternoon when he heard a woman screaming that her son was drowning.

The St Pauls College student, and competitive swimmer, had no hesitation in diving into blue bottle ridden water to bring the boy to safety on the rocks.

“I think I had an adrenalin rush and when I got to the rocks another man helped me get the boy out of the water,” Ollie said.

He said it was good his parents, Alisia and James Byrne, got him to do Nippers. His favourite activity was the boards.

“Otherwise, I think I would have been a bit semi scared of the beach; Nippers did give me confidence in the surf,” he said.

Mrs Byrne said she and her husband, who both grew up in the country, thought it was important for Ollie to do Nippers.

“Living on the coast, we wanted him to know how to read the surf and to be confident and safe in the water,” Alisia said.


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