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2024 Newcastle Permanent Hunter Junior Surf Life Savers of the Year Announced

Two of the Hunter’s brightest young surf life saving talents have been announced as the Newcastle Permanent Junior Surf Life Saver of the Year in a ceremony at Swansea Belmont Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) on Sunday.


14-year-old All Saints College Maitland student Abbey Keighran from Tea Gardens Hawks Nest SLSC was named the female winner, while St Pius X College’s Max Mietzel, also 14, from Newcastle SLSC took out the male award.


After joining in the 2020/21 season Abbey quickly became a dedicated volunteer at Tea Gardens Hawks Nest SLSC because she knows the value of surf life savers in her small patrol community. Passionate about developing younger club members, Abbey has completed her Age Manager award so she can help the nippers gain skills and confidence in the water. She is also looking forward to getting her Inflatable Rescue Boat crew so she can get out in the boats.


Max also took up surf life saving in the 2020/21 season after moving to Newcastle from Norfolk Island and has embraced the movement. He is celebrated as a positive role model at the club, where he particularly enjoys helping out with the nippers program and doing patrols, and will soon partake in the drone program. Max is also a strong competitor for the club and is particularly known for his speed on the sand.


Hunter Surf Life Saving President Henry Scruton ESM said that there was a strong field of contenders for the awards.


“Each of our local clubs puts forward a female and male nominee, who are required to participate in the Newcastle Permanent Branch Championships and also sit for an interview with a panel of judges,” Mr Scruton said.


“It’s not easy, but Abbey and Max really rose to the challenge and both impressed the panel with their work ethic, passion for the sport, and dedication to the community.


“Abbey and Max have made significant contributions to their clubs and are people that our younger members can be inspired by.


“Newcastle Permanent has supported us for over 40 years, which helps keep events like this one running, our nippers in the water and our beachgoers safe.”


Newcastle Permanent Head of Customer Lending Greg Hooper said that he was very impressed by the talent of the Hunter branch’s young members.


“All of the candidates for the Newcastle Permanent Junior Life Saver of the Year are phenomenal and demonstrate a dedication to their local communities like no other, so for Abbey and Max to come out on top is a huge achievement,” Mr Hooper said.


“Along with their beach safety knowledge and water skills, it’s wonderful to see that they are giving back to their community at such a young age.


“Witnessing the development of young leaders like Abbey and Max makes all of us at Newcastle Permanent feel exceptionally proud of our partnership with Hunter Surf Life Saving.


“It’s clear that Abbey and Max have very bright futures ahead!”


The Hunter branch of Surf Life Saving NSW has 13 clubs, patrolling beaches from Hawks Nest to Catherine Hill Bay. Newcastle Permanent has been a proud partner since 1982.


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