Gold Coast nipper takes out Junior Surf Lifesaver of the Year

A Gold Coast nipper has been named Queensland’s best at Surf Life Saving Queensland’s Awards of Excellence Gala Ball.

The ball was held last night in Brisbane, and celebrated the hard work and passion of the state’s volunteer surf lifesavers and lifeguards.

The night also aims to honour those who have gone above and beyond to protect beachgoers.


There are a number of awards handed out throughout the night, though a Gold Coast nipper took out one of the top gongs.

Maeka Free was recognised for her dedication to coastal safety, and named Breaka Under 14 Junior Surf Lifesaver of the Year.

Maeka responded to two adult men who were struggling in the surf, she was able to swim out with a rescue tube and support the men before additional support arrived.

She aspires to one day be a Surf Girl ambassador and the first female president of her club, and says receiving the award is an honour.

“I love all the opportunities which lifesaving provides. You can do a range of different things such as first aid and CPR, as well as IRB racing and surf sports. There really is something for everyone.

“I also loved representing surf lifesaving at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony on the worldwide stage, which was really amazing,” Maeka said.

Tweed Heads and Coolangatta SLSC was also recognised for its outstanding achievements in club development by being named JLT Club of the Year.

SLSQ Chief Executive Officer Dave Whimpey congratulated all award winners, saying the recognition was well-deserved.

“On behalf of SLSQ, I extend my congratulations to Maeka, the Tweed Heads and Coolangatta SLSC, and all the evening’s winners.

“We rely heavily upon the efforts and enthusiasm of our members to help keep our beaches safe.

“While all surf lifesavers and lifeguards across Queensland do a fantastic job, both on the beach and out in the community, it’s important that we recognise and pay tribute to those that go well above and beyond the call of duty,” Mr Whimpey said.

Many other honours were presented to local lifesavers, for the full list, click here.