TOP CLUB: Joe Keane, Sharon Balkin and Rob McArthur at the 2012 Surf Life Saving Australia Awards of Excellence in Sydney on Saturday night.
TOP CLUB: Joe Keane, Sharon Balkin and Rob McArthur at the 2012 Surf Life Saving Australia Awards of Excellence in Sydney on Saturday night. Contributed

DESPITE having no proper facilities and with their clubhouse still under construction, Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club has taken out surf lifesaving's highest national award, in what has been described as a testament to the club's "tireless" members.

On Saturday night the club was named Club of the Year at the 2012 Surf Life Saving Australia Awards of Excellence in Sydney.

Two Ballina members, Steve McNabb and Rhys Balkin, were also honoured with a Meritorious Award for their rescue of a person in distress off the Ballina bar in February this year.

Ben Redman, Jon Rigley and Callum O'Grady from the Evans Head-Casino club also received a Meritorious Award.

Ballina club's Joe Keane said 14 of their members travelled to Sydney for the awards night.

"When people look at our club, they see shipping containers ... but we are much more than that," he said.

"It's what we do between the red and yellow flags.

"We've also done great rescues, we've got a successful nippers program, we do a lot of development with our members and we've got the new clubhouse across the line.

"Members are really excited; there is a definite buzz.

"And now we'll be able to open our new facility as the Australian Club of the Year."

It is not the first major award this year for the Ballina surf club - in August they were named the NSW Club of the Year.

Construction of the new Ballina surf club at Lighthouse Beach is expected to be finished by mid-2013.



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