One of the first things that Harry Graham did when his family moved to Australia from the UK was join his local surf club at Redcliffe, and he’s never looked back.
Today he was recognised as Queensland’s top nipper after taking out SLSQ’s 2015 Breaka Under-14 Junior Surf Lifesaver of the Year award.
The announcement was made this afternoon in a special presentation at the Queensland Youth Surf Life Saving Championships at Maroochydore Beach on the Sunshine Coast.
Harry, who was representing the Sunshine Coast Branch as a finalist, beat five other nominees from across the state for the award, which remains the highest individual accolade for Queensland’s young surf lifesavers. It marks the first time a nipper from Redcliffe Peninsula SLSC has taken out the prestigious award.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic, I’m probably quite a bit speechless. Getting all of this and meeting so many new people, it’s just a wonderful thing for the club. It’s the first time that we’ve ever been nominated and here we are, so it’s been such a great experience,” Harry said.
“I love getting down to the beach every weekend, you couldn’t do that in England! A beach trip in England was probably once a year, so to be able to do that so often here is just amazing.
“I’ve learnt so much from surf lifesaving; it’s given me so many new skills and abilities including teamwork and leadership, and the confidence to do so many things I never would have been able to do before, like being able to come up here and speak in front of so many people today,” he said.
SLSQ membership development manager Brenda Lofthouse congratulated Harry on his win, saying it was a genuine reflection of his dedication and passion for surf lifesaving.
“While Harry is still quite young in his lifesaving career, he demonstrates a maturity well above and beyond his years,” she said.
“This award is the highest individual honour that can be given to our younger members, so it certainly goes to show the level of respect that Harry has earned, not just from his club-mates but from the wider surf lifesaving community as well,” she said.
The Year 9 student qualified for his Surf Rescue Certificate at the start of summer and, since then, has volunteered more than 60 hours to help patrol his local beach. In 2014/15 he was voted as the Male Nipper Club Captain at Redcliffe.
“Despite his relatively young age, Harry’s already developed into an extremely valuable and well-respected member. He’s extremely active with beach patrols, mentors younger nippers and is always putting his hand up to help with fundraising whenever he’s needed by the club,” Ms Lofthouse said.
Harry was one of six finalists representing their club and branch from around the state including Harriet Grant (North Queensland), Joachim Born (North Barrier), Jordan Winning (Wide Bay Capricorn) and Ky Curtis and and Sophie Clemson (both Gold Coast).
Harry was presented with the award after an application and interview process to consider all elements of their contribution to the movement.
“All of our nominees were amazing. They are all wonderful young people who have a real passion and dedication to the movement, and I congratulate them all on being recognised at this level,” said Ms Lofthouse.
“Harry is not just one of six young surf lifesavers that love being involved; he’s among over 10,000 junior surf lifesavers across the state who enjoy being active in surf lifesaving and get involved in all the opportunities that the movement can provide.
“Surf Life Saving Queensland is an organisation built on the strength of our membership and, with young members like Harry and our other finalists in the movement, I think it’s safe to say that we’ll have a pretty strong future ahead of us,” Ms Lofthouse said.