After a season on the beach where he has consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty, Port Macquarie Supervisor James Turnham could be forgiven for putting his feet up but that wouldn’t be the newly crowned Lifeguard of the Year’s style.

As a lifeguard, educator, mentor, and drone operator, James’ commitment and passion to his job has been outstanding throughout the 2017/18 season.

In the classroom he delivered school surf safety presentations to over 4,000 pupils as well as leading a pilot program helping 35 senior students to obtain their Surf Rescue Certificate.

He has willingly embraced technology by coordinating the DPI Drone program in Port Macquarie and also provided the UAV surveillance for the NSW State Surf Life Saving Championships at Swansea Belmont.

James has also shared his knowledge of drones much further afield after he was selected to represent the Australian Lifeguard Service and Surf Life Saving NSW. On the five-day trip last July to some of the country’s most remote areas near Cape York in Far North Queensland.

A key goal of the visit was to meet with the indigenous rangers, train them in the basics of UAV technology, and also highlight the opportunities that it could offer them in their line of work. This covered monitoring the nesting pattern of turtles along the coastline, checking the fences, counting wild pig numbers, quickly spotting bushfires and monitoring the quality of lagoons.

As a Port Macquarie Lifeguard, Turnham was first responder to a number of serious incidents throughout the season, and always conducted himself in a professional manner. He also demonstrated his hidden talents guest editing the Australian Lifeguard Publication in 2017.

“I am very honoured to win this award as there are a lot of very talented lifeguards who go out and give the job everything,” said a humble James Turnham after being presented with his award.

“We do our best each day, and it’s very humbling to think how many people are alive because of lifeguards.”

“All of us go out there to do a professional service for our community and it’s true what they say, we have a great job and lifestyle, but at the end of the day I do what I do because I love going out there and helping people,” he said.

James is now in contention for the Australian Lifeguard of the Year Award which will be announced at the Surf Life Saving Australia Awards of Excellence later this year.

NSW Surf Life Saving Awards of Excellence – Mid North Coast Recipient
·      ALS Lifeguard of the Year – James Turnham

The 2018 SLSNSW Awards of Excellence are proudly supported by Port Authority of New South Wales with almost 400 of Surf Life Saving’s most outstanding lifesavers, athletes, educators, coaches, and administrators from around the state gathering at Dockside, Cockle Bay to celebrate the season that was.

Photographs from the night are available to download for media use via DropBox or  via this link