Junior Surf Lifesavers of the Year, leaders of tomorrow

Abby Mulligan and Matthew Pieschel were recently awarded the Junior Surf Lifesaver of the Year in the female and male categories. Photo: Callan Lawrence
Abby Mulligan and Matthew Pieschel were recently awarded the Junior Surf Lifesaver of the Year in the female and male categories. Photo: Callan Lawrence

This article is sponsored by Newcastle Permanent 

The best thing about surf lifesaving? That’s easy, says Matthew Pieschel.

“I get to go to the beach every weekend and go surfing and have fun,” the Crowdy Head Surf Life Saving Club member says.

“But I’m also there helping people and my community. I joined Nippers when I was five so I've been at Crowdy for as long as I can remember.”

Matthew was recently awarded the Newcastle Permanent Male Junior Surf Lifesaver of the Year, along with Abby Mulligan who won the Female Junior Surf Lifesaver of the Year award.

Abby was nominated by her local club - Cape Hawke Surf Life Saving - and went through nerve-wracking interviews and an assessment before being announced as the winner

“This was a new experience for me as I’ve never been through an interview situation before,” she says.

“It’s a great sport to be involved with because it teaches you the skills and confidence that you can use to help others and maybe one day even save a life.”

The future is looking golden for Abby - she’s working towards achieving her Gold Medallion and would one day like to become a lifeguard. But for now she’s just proud to be representing her local lifesaving community.

Matthew agrees. He said he felt proud to be awarded Junior Surf Lifesaver of the Year against many worthy peers. 

But Matthew’s work in the water has only just begun. He’d like to become a marine biologist “so I could spend my life working outdoors and maybe even discovery a new species”.

Abby and Matthew were proud to represent their clubs. Photo: Callan Lawrence

Abby and Matthew were proud to represent their clubs. Photo: Callan Lawrence

Brian Wilcox, President Surf Lifesaving LNC Branch, said the partnership with Newcastle Permanent was great support for surf lifesavers.

“The Newcastle Permanent Junior Lifesaver of the Year Awards are so important to our organisation because it gives us a great opportunity to recognise our junior members from all of our clubs for the fantastic work they do, not just the two winners of the award,” he said.

“Junior members are involved in many different aspects of surf lifesaving, including patrolling, fundraising, education, age managers for nippers and community events. From these programs the next leaders of Surf Life Saving evolves – they can use their community involvement and organisational knowledge to help others.”

Newcastle Permanent invests around $300,000 a year into Surf Life Saving branches from the Central Coast to the Queensland border. The partnership is a part of the financial institution’s Community Support Program, which together with other community partnerships, staff donations, volunteering and charity fundraising, invests around $2 million a year back into the community.

Newcastle Permanent CEO Terry Millett said sponsoring surf life saving was a natural fit for the customer-owned building society.

 “Our decade-long partnership with Surf Life Saving on the Lower North Coast is built on a strong foundation of shared values and commitment to the community,” he said.

“We recognise the vital service volunteer surf lifesavers provide in the region and through this partnership our goal is to help Surf Life Saving continue its great work supporting clubs, volunteers, and the wider community.”

Mr Millett said the building society’s ownership model means an ongoing commitment to invest in the community.

“Our ownership model is different to that of the big four banks — we are 100 per cent owned by our customers, not shareholders. This means our decisions are based on what is best for our customers, rather than what’s going to make the most amount of profit for shareholders – because we don’t have any shareholders.”

Community events including Cinema Under the Stars and the Primary School Maths Competition are also supported by Newcastle Permanent. Staff members dedicate up to 900 volunteer hours a year and have contributed $750,000 to community projects through a salary donation scheme.

This article is sponsored by Newcastle Permanent