Junior Surf Lifesavers of the Year, leaders of tomorrow

Lanah Vandyke and Flynn Wallace-Smith were recently awarded the Junior Surf Lifesaver of the Year in the female and male categories. Photo: Callan Lawrence
Lanah Vandyke and Flynn Wallace-Smith were recently awarded the Junior Surf Lifesaver of the Year in the female and male categories. Photo: Callan Lawrence

This article is sponsored by Newcastle Permanent 

For the past nine years, Sunday has been Flynn Wallace-Smith’s favourite day of the week. Sunday means one thing - surf lifesaving. 

Flynn was recently awarded the Newcastle Permanent Male Junior Surf Lifesaver of the Year – Hunter, a huge honour that left the Caves Beach local ‘over the moon’.

He received the award along with Lanah Vandyke, a Redhead Surf Life Saving Club member who was named Female Junior Lifesaver of the Year – Hunter.

Flynn and Lanah each faced an assessment and interview with a selection panel before being named the winners. Despite some early nerves, Lanah says she felt ‘calm and easy’ in the final interview – a testament to her cool, calm and collected approach on land or water. 

“Winning Junior Lifesaver of the Year was a big deal for me,” says Lanah.

“I made my club, friends, family and myself proud. It feels great to be recognised for what I do.”

Lanah says the support of her club over the past decade has fueled her passion and ambition for surf lifesaving. 

“It’s always a great feeling when I go to the club. You feel like you belong. Everyone is so friendly and fun.”

Flynn agrees. He says being part of Caves Beach Surf Life Saving Club is a rewarding experience.

“I really enjoy putting on the red and yellow and having kids and parents come up and ask me where it’s safe to swim,” he says.

“My life goal is to use the skills and people connections of surf lifesaving to benefit the broader community. I know some people think that’s unrealistic for a kid, but already at 14 years old, I reckon I’ve proven it’s possible.”

Lanah and Flynn say they feel proud to represent their clubs - Redhead and Caves Beach respectively. Photo: Callan Lawrence

Lanah and Flynn say they feel proud to represent their clubs - Redhead and Caves Beach respectively. Photo: Callan Lawrence

Hunter Surf Life Saving CEO Rhonda Scruton says Newcastle Permanent’s community-centric business model makes the building society a natural fit for sponsorship of the surf lifesaving community. 

“Hunter Surf Life Saving has partnered with Newcastle Permanent for 35 of the 100 years we have been established,” she says. 

“Our partnership with Newcastle Permanent is based on shared values and an unwavering commitment to the community, which has allowed Hunter SLS Branch to successfully develop, train and nurture four generations of lifesavers.” 

Newcastle Permanent CEO Terry Millett says he is proud to support the surf lifesaving community. 

“Our support for surf lifesaving extends from the Central Coast to the Queensland border, assisting surf lifesaving branches and clubs to purchase essential safety equipment, perform volunteer patrols and provide training and leadership programs to nurture the lifesavers of tomorrow.”

This partnership is a part of the financial institution’s Community Support Program, which together with other community partnerships, staff donations, volunteering and charity fundraising, means more than $2 million a year is invested back into the community.

Mr Millet says Newcastle Permanent’s customer-owned model allows the building society to reinvest profits back into helping customers.

“We do this by keeping our loan and deposit rates very competitive and through supporting community events, programs, and initiatives such as surf life saving,” Mr Millett says.

Community events including Cinema Under the Stars and the Primary School Maths Competition are also supported by Newcastle Permanent. Its staff members dedicate up to 900 volunteer hours a year and have contributed $750,000 to community projects through a salary donation scheme.

This article is sponsored by Newcastle Permanent