Ōmaha Surf Life Saving Club has won the coveted title of Top Club at the Surf Life Saving Northern Region (SLSNR) Awards of Excellence held earlier this month.
Northern Region chief executive Matt Williams said club epitomised the strong “family” trait seen throughout the movement – as did a number of other recipients this year.
A first-time winner of the award, Ōmaha saw substantial growth in the 2021/22 season with an increase of passionate members coming through their ranks.
“The club deserved the title given its response to the challenges posed by Covid-19,” Williams said. “It maintained an incredible standard of patrolling, refreshing 84 per cent of its lifeguards, as well as keeping members skilled in multiple pathways – all the while keeping a fun, family feel to their club.”
Williams said Ōmaha fostered impressive growth in its junior surf programme and was able to ensure junior members received a great programme over the summer, despite being heavily restricted in what they could run.
“When you talk to Ōmaha club members, the word ‘family’ is often used to describe the club and how it feels when you’re there. They may be getting bigger, but they retain that feeling.”
On the individual front, Omaha’s Charlie Wood picked up the Junior Coach of the Year award, Waipu’s Angela Stolwek received a Distinguished Service Award and Waipu Cove’s Ian Godfrey received a Long Service Award.
The family theme extended through a number of individual honours. Father and daughter duo Rob and Nicky Howes (Whangārei Heads) were awarded life memberships, along with close family friend and club colleague Lindsay Hill, while to the south at Waipū Cove SLSC, husband and wife Tim and Kath Manning received Service Awards and daughter Laura won Rookie of the Year.
Williams said the family vibe within the surf lifesaving movement was a rich and important part of the culture.
“It’s an important part of lifesaving being able to continue to produce the lifeguarding numbers we need to keep our beach-going population safe. But it also adds immensely to the sense of community at our clubs.”