STATE GONG: Byron Bay's Matilda Shirley has been named the NSW Junior Lifesaver of the Year
STATE GONG: Byron Bay's Matilda Shirley has been named the NSW Junior Lifesaver of the Year

Matilda waltzes to award

YOUNG Byron Bay surf lifesaver Matilda Shirley has capped off her days as a Nipper in style by winning the Junior Lifesaver of the Year award.

Matilda and Elliott Prasad (Narrabeen Beach) received the awards after impressing the judges during the development program at the Collaroy Learning Centre in Sydney last week.

The pair were among 22 Under-14 finalists from the 11 branches in NSW nominated to take part in the annual leadership and development program, which brings together like-minded young lifesavers in their final year of Nippers.

"When they announced the winners, I was very surprised and it was totally unexpected,” Matilda said.

"I'm just so honoured to represent my club and branch and to do everyone proud who I hold dear. It's just an amazing moment.”

The young Far North Coast lifesaver has covered plenty of distance in her time in surf lifesaving, having started out as an Under-6 Nipper at Broome in WA before moving to Brisbane.

"I moved from Broome to Brisbane and I really loved surf lifesaving,” she said.

"I couldn't it give up so my dad drove me to Kurrawa SLSC every Sunday and I stuck with it before I joined Byron Bay two years ago.

"It's a massive part of my life and I'll never give it up”

"I want to continue on to obtain my Bronze Medallion and stay highly involved in the Byron Bay Surf Club, and just do whatever I can to give back to my club and community who have done so much for me.”

Throughout the Junior Lifesaver of the Year program the young participants were involved in various workshops and recreational activities designed to develop their leadership potential.

Narrabeen Beach continued its success in the program after Ella Cook had received the award last year.

"There was friendly pressure coming into the program as Ella won it last year. Hopefully we can get the hat-trick in 2018,” Elliott Prasad said.

Elliott has been involved in Nippers since Under-9s and said the program last week was one of the highlights of his years in surf lifesaving.

"Being from a small surf club and winning a NSW award means a lot to me and everyone who has supported me along the way,” he said.

Matilda and Elliott will be honoured at the annual NSW Awards of Excellence in Sydney in August.



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