Home » Welsh winners in Surf Life-Saving Club ‘Heroes of the Surf’ Awards
News Pembrokeshire Vale of Glamorgan

Welsh winners in Surf Life-Saving Club ‘Heroes of the Surf’ Awards

TWO Welsh women have been honoured in the annual ‘Heroes of the Surf’ awards. Ellie McCloy, 22, member of Poppit Sands Surf Life-Saving Club and Team GB member won the alongside Andrea Pennell. Pernell, 61, is a member of Llanwit Major Surf Life-Saving Club (Vale of Glamorgan) and also a member Surf Lifesaving Wales. The women both won the ‘Sports Person in Lifesaving’ award.

Ellie gives up a significant amount of time to upcoming athletes in Wales, passing on knowledge and skills she has gained.
She runs the Tuesday night boards session open to all clubs and attracting 30 athletes on average. She is a coach at the fast-developing Cardiff Bay Kayak club which is rapidly developing top young ski paddlers.

McCloy also mentors and trains with individual athletes who have approached her with training plans and technical sessions. Ellie has also provided coached sessions for the Welsh team.

Last but not least she works with her own club Rest Bay, to take sessions and develop technique with junior athletes. All of this while managing her own training and a busy degree as fourth year medical student.

Andrea gives up a huge amount of time for Nationals, Committee work and her international lifesaving work. She inspires and nurtures those starting on sports officiating, demonstrates excellent event management skills and always ensures the safety of all. She goes above and beyond to ensure all events run as successfully as possible.

The ‘Heroes of the Surf’ are nominated by their peers and the event recognises the tireless efforts of the clubs and members to train, educate and qualify beach lifeguards, while recognising the winners as exemplars in the life-saving community who inspire future generations of volunteers.

The awards have been going for more than 20 years but this year’s event was the first since the 2019 Covid-19 pandemic. There were 14 awards with winners from 13 clubs across Britain.

In 2023 the charity’s members made 87 potentially life-saving interventions and over the last five years SLSGB clubs have issued 24,000 life-saving qualifications.

SLSGB clubs give tens of thousands of volunteer hours each year to help their communities.

Pete Lawrence, Club Chairman and lifeguard at Bantham Surf Life-Saving Club in Devon, said: “There is nothing more courageous than the heart of a volunteer, and all our members who give their time and skills to saving lives and preventing drowning are heroes. Our awards recognise the exceptional bravery, skill, selflessness and commitment of our volunteers who ensure the public are safe in and around our beaches.

“With increasing access to our waters for sport, recreation or commerce, the number of people who have the potential to get into trouble, is increasing.

“All life-saving organisations play a crucial role in keeping people safe, however our members don’t save lives to a season or timetable, their life-saving skills can be deployed 365 days of the year, 24 hours per day, regardless of the season and regardless of the hour.”

A further 24 members from clubs in Cornwall (Newquay, Holywell Bay, Perranporth, St Agnes, Portreath and Gyllynvase), Devon (Woolacombe, Croyde), Northumberland (Blyth), East Sussex (Eastbourne) and Wales (Poppit Sands, Pembrokeshire), received a Commendation for Contribution to Lifesaving: 15 winners were from Cornwall clubs.

Tim Coventry, Chief Executive of Surf Life-Saving GB, added: “The charity is not just about saving lives; our system of education and activity encourages fitness, wellbeing and team work. Our sport and training builds trust, confidence, capability and special water skills. This is why over 50 per cent of our membership are under 18 who all enjoy being on the beach having fun.

“Our clubs are special places with a unique culture and our members are special people. This blend makes our clubs enjoyable, safe places for family activity with like-minded people that is often challenging, always rewarding.”

The Surf Life Saving Cluband, established 70 years ago is a search and rescue charity with more than 90 clubs and 10,000 members across Britain.

Volunteers are trained to the highest beach safety standards. The clubs train and operate volunteer inland and inshore search and rescue teams, are members of the UK Search and Rescue Operators Group and are leaders in water safety risk management.

Starting at age seven, members develop the skills, confidence, fitness and water safety awareness to become life-savers at 16. Nationally, volunteer trainers deliver around 4,000 awards each year.

The club provides the highest level of training and qualification: the Beach Lifeguard Award. Many members with the award work for organisations such as the RNLI as professional beach lifeguards. Membership has risen by seven per cent over the last six years.

The charity’s wholly owned subsidiary, SLSGB Training Ltd, provides training resources for police authorities and other organisations which work close to water, offer bespoke safety advisory and consultancy services, and are international leaders in the development of Flood Response and Rescue resilience programmes.

Another arm of the charity is Surf Life-saving Sport, which involves both recreational and competitive disciplines associated with surf life-saving. There is a busy competitive events calendar throughout the year involving five key disciplines: Pool, Ocean, Beach, IRB and Surf Boat. Athletes can compete at club, regional, national and international level.