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Lifesaver dives into Port Stephens Local Woman of the Year award

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A surf lifesaver who’s devoted her time to the movement was announced as the 2024 Port Stephens Local Woman of the Year this week.

Jackie Bower, a dedicated and passionate member of the Tea Gardens Hawks Nest SLSC, claimed the prestigious honour from MP Kate Washington ahead of IWD on 8 March.

She follows in the footsteps of previous recipients Mel Turner (Destination Port Stephens), Dr Sarah Bayley (Raymond Terrace Family Practice), Sue Pollock (Port Stephens Family & Neighbourhood Service) and Taurie Lalor (Tomaree Breast Cancer Support Group).

2024 Port Stephens Local Woman of the Year Jackie Bower with Port Stephens MP Kate Washington.

“It is a great honour for me to be named Port Stephens Local Woman of the Year,” Ms Bower said.

“This could not be possible without the support of all our Tea Garden Hawks Nest SLSC volunteers, who spend numerous hours patrolling and keeping our beach safe, as well as supporting our nippers programs most Sundays in the summer season.

“Our members are all united by a shared passion for beach safety and community service.

“In addition to protecting lives, their tireless efforts foster a sense of unity and pride among the Tea Gardens/Hawks Nest and Port Stephens communities.

“I enjoy being part of this incredible club.”

Ms Bower joined Tea Gardens Hawks Nest SLSC in 2019.

She’s served as the club’s secretary and vice-president, as well as coordinating many of the organisation’s on-beach activities.

Her efforts were also acknowledged at the 2022 Newcastle Permanent Hunter Branch Surf Life Saving Awards of Excellence where she received the Administrator of the Year and Presidents’ accolades.

She was recognised as the Administrator of the Year for the 2022 NSW Surf Life Saving Awards of Excellence, too, and a finalist for the 2022 Rebel NSW Sports Awards.

When presenting the 2022 plaudits, Surf Life Saving NSW said: “Jackie’s organisational skills are beyond reproach – she was a main driving force behind the rowing/masters carnival at Bennetts Beach, Hawks Nest, during the season, and also completed more patrolling hours than anyone in the club this season. Jackie is truly an inspiration to her club and to those who are lucky enough to be in her presence.”

The Local Woman of the Year awards is an annual program celebrating outstanding females in local communities, such as Ms Bower.

“This is well-deserved recognition for Jackie’s hard work and dedication to her club and our community,” Ms Washington said.

“Her contribution of countless volunteer hours to keep people safe on one of our most dangerous beaches is so impressive.

“It’s leaders like Jackie that make a difference every single day, by building stronger communities and brighter futures for the next generation.

“Put simply, she’s a local legend and an inspiration.”

Ms Bower’s award will be acknowledged locally at the annual Port Stephens International Women’s Day Breakfast, hosted by Ms Washington and Paterson MP Meryl Swanson, at the Murrook Culture Centre on 7 March.

Minister for Women Jodie Harrison congratulated all the state’s Local Woman of the Year Award 2024 recipients.

“Women who contribute to local areas are the pillars of their communities,” she said.

“They selflessly dedicate their time and energy to make a positive difference.

“I would like to acknowledge the invaluable contributions these women are making in their communities with dedication and passion… and thank them for all their amazing work.”

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