Flags up across Port Macquarie-Hastings for start of surf life saving season

Flags up: Gary Hawkins (MNC SLSC), Peta Pinson (mayor, Port Macquarie Hastings Council), Bob Higham (NPBS), Rod McDonagh (Branch President SLSC MNC), Steve Donovan (Didgeridoo player), Tony Worton (NSW Surf Lifesaver of the Year) & Uncle Bill OBrien (OAM), Chairperson of Birpai Local Aboriginal Land Council.
Flags up: Gary Hawkins (MNC SLSC), Peta Pinson (mayor, Port Macquarie Hastings Council), Bob Higham (NPBS), Rod McDonagh (Branch President SLSC MNC), Steve Donovan (Didgeridoo player), Tony Worton (NSW Surf Lifesaver of the Year) & Uncle Bill OBrien (OAM), Chairperson of Birpai Local Aboriginal Land Council.

Representatives from Mid North Coast Surf Life Saving and Newcastle Permanent gathered on Saturday for the ceremonial raising of the flags, marking the beginning of the 2020/21 patrol season.

Patrols are now underway from Scotts Head to Camden Haven, with 2,388 local surf lifesavers enlisted to help protect Mid North Coast beachgoers this summer.

Last season, volunteers from Mid North Coast Surf Lifesaving dedicated 25,000 hours, performing 48 rescues and tending first aid to 119.

Rod McDonagh, president at Mid North Coast Surf Lifesaving, said despite recent obstacles presented by COVID-19, his team are equipped and ready for the upcoming summer months.

Season starts: The flag raising ceremony was held in Camden Haven.

Season starts: The flag raising ceremony was held in Camden Haven.

"Spending time at the beach is a way of life for many locals. Our dedicated team has worked tirelessly to develop the necessary COVID safety plans that will allow our beaches to stay open and safe this summer," he said.

"With the support of our long-term community partner, Newcastle Permanent, we are able to continue to deliver our essential lifesaving services and ensure our volunteers have the equipment, training and skills they need to stay at the top of their game.

"Newcastle Permanent's support also enables the recruitment, training and retention of our junior surf lifesavers which will help to ensure our beaches remain safe for generations to come."

Newcastle Permanent mobile lending manager, Bob Higham, said the organisation was proud to continue their long-standing partnership with Mid North Coast Surf Lifesaving which is now in its 16th year.

"As a customer-owned organisation, we're passionate about supporting local community groups and organisations that help make our community great.

"Our ongoing partnership with Mid North Coast Surf Lifesaving is an integral part of our community sponsorship and one which has been built on a strong foundation of shared values and commitment to the community.

Bob Higham (NPBS) presenting MNC Junior Lifesaver of the Year award to Bronte McAlister (Tacking Point SLSC)

Bob Higham (NPBS) presenting MNC Junior Lifesaver of the Year award to Bronte McAlister (Tacking Point SLSC)

"We recognise the important role volunteer surf lifesavers play in keeping our community safe and it's a privilege to support Mid North Coast Surf Lifesaving and their dedicated team in continuing their vital work," he said.

Newcastle Permanent supports Surf Life Saving from the Central Coast to the Queensland border through its partnerships with the six regional Surf Life Saving branches, including Central Coast, Hunter, Lower North Coast, North Coast, Far North Coast SLS clubs.

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