SINCE 2003 Port Macquarie’s James Turnham has been protecting lives and keeping beaches safe as a NSW Surf Lifesaver.
He is humble in saying he does not do it for recognition, however his hard work and dedication paid off when he was awarded the Lifeguard of the Year at the Surf Life Saving Australia Awards of Excellence at the Art Gallery of NSW on October 28.
Turnham, who won the NSW Lifeguard of the Year in August, is the lifeguard supervisor on the Mid North Coast for the Australian Lifeguard Service and said he was honoured to win.
“There are many other lifeguards that give their job everything as well,” he said.
“Community education is a highlight within my job. We have been lucky enough to go round to the local primary schools and educate the kids about beach safety.
“It’s great to be part of such a community-based service.”
He said it's not about the recognition, but was proud of the achievement nonetheless.
“We do it for the community. We just want people to go home safe at the end of the day,” he said.
He said growing up in a coastal town like Port Macquarie was the key reason he fell in love with the beach and helping others.
"It was the great lifestyle that attracted me to it. That's where the passion comes from,” he said.
“Yeah it's a job, but obviously I have a passion about helping the community. I love what I do.
“It's not a goal to win an award. It's all about helping people. You never know what's going to happen (so) it's keeping on top of things, being ready and being proactive in educating the community."
As the largest state body in the country with 129 clubs, NSW wass proud to nominate its top members and groups for the prestigious night.
This year NSW cleaned up, bringing home eight of the 13 awards and three meritorious awards of recognition.
It's not a goal to win an award. It's all about helping people.James Turnham
SLSA’s President Graham Ford AM spoke about the important contribution Australia’s surf lifesavers make to the community.
“The National Awards of Excellence is an opportunity for Surf Life Saving Australia to recognise the amazing achievements of our members,” he said.
“By hosting these awards, we are not here to just honour our finest surf lifesavers but to motivate and inspire the next generation moving through the movement.”
2018 Surf Life Saving Australia Awards of Excellence Winners:
- DHL Club of the Year: Avalon Beach SLSC
- DHL Surf Lifesaver of the Year: Matthew Slattery of North Avoca SLSC
- DHL Lifeguard of the Year: James Turnham NSW
- DHL Volunteer of the Year: Sandy Clarke of Mullaloo, WA
- Youth Lifesaver of the Year Nicholas Canales, TAS
- Coach of the Year Jenny Plint, WA
- Trainer of the Year Kimberley Gee, VIC
- Assessor of the Year Michael Martin AM
- Community Education Program of the Year Broulee/Canberra Nippers, Broulee Surfers SLSC, NSW
- Innovation of the Year Honouring our Female Lifesavers Event, Terrigal SLSC, NSW
- Youth Athlete of the Year Jemma Smith, NSW
- Athlete of the Year Kendrick Louis, NSW
- Surf Sport Official of the Year Jenny Kenny, NSW