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Future looks bright for young Hunter lifesavers  


The future looks extremely bright for Abbey Keighran and Max Mietzel after the Hunter lifesavers collected prestigious accolades at the weekend.

The pair was named as the Newcastle Permanent Junior Surf Life Savers of the Year in a ceremony at the Swansea Belmont Surf Life Saving Club.

Hunter Surf Life Saving president Henry Scruton ESM congratulated the strong field of contenders who vied for the awards.

Newcastle Permanent head of customer lending Greg Hooper with Newcastle SLSC’s Max Mietzel and Tea Gardens Hawks Nest SLSC’s Abbey Keighran.

“Each of our local clubs puts forward a female and male nominee,” he said.

“They are required to participate in the Newcastle Permanent Branch Championships and also sit for an interview with a panel of judges.

“It’s not easy, but Abbey and Max really rose to the challenge and both impressed with their work ethic, passion for the sport, and dedication to the community.

“They have made significant contributions to their clubs and are people that our younger members can be inspired by.

“Newcastle Permanent has supported us for more than 40 years, which helps keep events like this one running, our nippers in the water and our beachgoers safe.”

Fourteen-year-old All Saints College Maitland student Keighran, from Tea Gardens Hawks Nest SLSC, secured the female honour while St Pius X College’s Mietzel, also 14, from Newcastle SLSC, took out the male equivalent.

After joining in the 2020/21 season, Keighran quickly became a dedicated volunteer at Tea Gardens Hawks Nest SLSC because she knows the value of surf lifesavers in her small patrol community.

Passionate about developing younger club members, she’s completed her Age Manager award so she can help the nippers gain skills and confidence in the water.

She is also looking forward to getting her Inflatable Rescue Boat crew so she can get out in the boats.

Mietzel also took up surf lifesaving in 2020/21 after moving to Newcastle from Norfolk Island… and has embraced the movement.

He is celebrated as a positive role model at the club, where he particularly enjoys helping out with the nippers’ program and doing patrols.

He’ll soon partake in the drone initiative.

Mietzel is also a strong competitor for the club, particularly known for his speed on the sand.

Newcastle Permanent head of customer lending Greg Hooper said he was very impressed by the talent of the Hunter branch’s young members.

“All of the candidates for the Newcastle Permanent Junior Life Saver of the Year are phenomenal and demonstrate a dedication to their local communities like no other,” he explained.

“So, for Abbey and Max to come out on top is a huge achievement.

“Along with their beach safety knowledge and water skills, it’s wonderful to see that they are giving back to their community at such a young age.

“Witnessing the development of young leaders like Abbey and Max makes all of us at Newcastle Permanent feel exceptionally proud of our partnership – which started in 1982 – with Hunter Surf Life Saving.”

The Hunter branch of Surf Life Saving NSW boasts 13 clubs, patrolling beaches from Hawks Nest to Catherine Hill Bay.

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