Port Fairy SLSC Nipper program coordinator Nicole Dwyer recently accepted the Nipper Program Volunteer Award at LSV’s Awards of Excellence. The patrolling member of 18 years took on the coordinator role in October 2016, after helping out during daughter Lexie’s sessions.
After taking on the role, she implemented a number of changes that led to a dramatic increase in Nipper numbers from 220 to 480 in just two seasons. She also fundraised to ensure each Nipper received a bag and drink bottle upon registering.
To top off a great year, she was awarded life membership at the Port Fairy SLC’s annual general meeting on Sunday and received the President’s Award at a club presentation in May. Here’s her lifesaving story:
I am currently the Nipper Coordinator, club sponsorship, marketing, and fundraising officer at Port Fairy SLSC, as well as an active patrolling member.
I also compete for Port Fairy SLSC in a Ladies Masters Surf Boat Crew, in the stroke position. We have competed at Victorian and National titles for the last few years. I have also been a finalist in the Ladies Master’s Beach Sprint at the Aussie Titles.
Port Fairy SLSC.
How long have you been involved in Surf Lifesaving?
I did my Bronze Medallion in around 2000, so I have been involved for 18 years with Port Fairy SLSC.
Growing up on a sheep and beef farm in the district, my family used to holiday in Port Fairy. I didn’t have the chance to attend Nippers as a child, because my parents were busy running a farm.
I’m proud that lots of farmers now enrol their kids in Nippers at Port Fairy SLSC. We have a lot of farming families around the district, and they see it as a valuable addition to their children’s growth to be part of Nippers.
What made you become involved in Surf Lifesaving?
My husband, Dean Dwyer was, and is, heavily involved in the club, so I came to the club through his connection. We actually live within walking distance of the beach and the club – we pretty much live at the club now!
What are some of your responsibilities at your club?
I coordinate all nipper activities, a role which comprises everything from training age managers, organising the calendar, managing logistics, handling enrollments – everything that goes into organising a successful Nippers program!
I have also been heavily involved in getting some new sponsors on board, getting a new surf boat for the club, applying for grants, and creating club merchandise.
What do you enjoy most about Lifesaving?
Seeing confidence grow in kids (and adults) is something I find very rewarding. I like to see everybody being safe and happy, having a crack and staying healthy. The club is a great environment.
How do you encourage others to get involved with lifesaving and volunteering?
I’m always roping in more friends from the footy and netball club to be involved! Being seasonal sports, you take part in lifesaving in summer and netball in winter. I think I motivate people that you can do both and don’t have to choose one or the other.
What is your greatest achievement in Lifesaving so far?
Being recently awarded the Nipper Volunteer of the Year at LSV’s Awards of Excellence and gaining Life Membership of Port Fairy SLSC recently are both right up there.
Before then, developing into the Nipper Coordinator role was a highlight and I always took pride in fundraising and marketing for the club.
What types of rescues have you been involved in?
Actually none! Port Fairy is quite a safe beach, it’s a sheltered bay and I haven’t been required to spring into action yet.
What’s been the most surprising part of being a volunteer with your club?
We are a small club, but we have a lot going for us. Some people might think Port Fairy is a tiny little club, but we’re coming to be seen as more professional than just a country, coastal club. I think that is a welcome surprise to people.
When you’re not lifesaving, what keeps you busy?
My involvement with the Port Fairy ‘Seagulls’ Football Netball Club. I played my 350th A Grade game earlier in the year. Also looking after my two girls Lexie (eight) and Bronte (three).
What was the best advice you were ever given and who gave it to you?
“Your attitude is always your choice” – Mum.