By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
URUNGA Surf Lifesaving has suddenly been put up on a pedestal during the year that club is enjoying their 60th anniversary celebrations.
The small club at Hungry Head has barely been able to contain it's excitement this week since 14 year-old Nipper Jack Chaffey was awarded the Male State Junior Lifesaver of the Year award last weekend at Cronulla.
"On a scale of one to ten, this is a hundred," club president Vanessa Nugent said.
"This is just the greatest thing that could've happened to our tiny club, it's just put us on the map."
The award is given to the Nipper who has contributed the most to lifesaving by demonstrating leadership within their club, encouraging new membership, promoting surf lifesaving, showing community spirit and competing in surf lifesaving events.
For Chaffey, it's an award that recognises efforts that he simply would make anyway in his normal day-to-day life such is his devotion to the club.
"It's a real community atmosphere at the club," the Bishop Druitt College student said.
"It's not so much about competing there even though you're encouraged to but it's not like you're scared into it. Everyone is really encouraging and it's a great atmosphere down at the beach. Simply the people there are good people and you want to be a part of the club."
Chaffey has recently completed his Surf Rescue Certificate which allows him to join the seniors patrolling the Hungry Head beach on a limited basis.
To win the statewide award, the Nambucca resident had to go through a long and involved process.
First step was a lengthy written submission followed by a series of interviews that started at club level.
With a character and good nature that easily stands out, it wasn't long before the award winner was nominated as the North Coast representative. From there a two-day youth forum in Wollongong was attended where he again faced an intense interview.
Impressing the judges here meant that Chaffey was selected ahead of the other 10 finalists from the other branches around the state.
When the announcement was made last weekend, Jack was completely unaware that his name would be read out and he was left almost speechless.
"I was just amazed and overwhelmed, I was really excited," he said.
"I was just so proud to be nominated as the North Coast representative but then to win state, it was so exciting."
Next step for the state award winner is to sit for his bronze medallion next season when he turns 15 which will make him a fully qualified Surf Lifesaver.