Burrage is country's best surf lifesaver

Goolwa Surf Life Saving Club is home to Australia's best surf lifesaver for 2021.

Matt Burrage, who is not only a skilled lifesaver but also the club's president, was recognised for his efforts at Surf Life Saving Australia's National Awards of Excellence this month.

A dedicated and committed member of the club, Mr Burrage is passionate about serving his community, which is shown in his 350 patrol hours completed last season.

Since joining the Goolwa club in 2015, he has become heavily involved in youth development and state training, along with the incident response management side of surf life saving.

He was made club captain a couple of years ago before becoming president this year.

This year, he was awarded the South Australian Surf Lifesaver of the Year gong, which made him eligible for the national award - which he could not believe he had won.

"I was watching at home and I was shocked when they called out my name," he said.

"It's nice to be acknowledged, but I'm just one of many volunteers. I'm shy to be singled out, but it's good."

His incident management skills through his work as a police officer help with his surf life saving thanks to strong connections and communication skills between emergency services.

His efforts to foster strong relationships with neighbouring clubs resulted in the formation of a Southern Response Group this year, providing a collective of trained members to assist with large Search and Rescue incidents in the south at short notice.

Mr Burrage enjoyed servicing the community through surf life saving.

"I like being involved because of the skills and knowledge I can pass on to the youth," he said.

"And member development - it's good to be able to provide the knowledge, these members shine when they put the skills into training."

He encouraged anyone who had considered surf life saving to give it a go.

"It's rewarding, no matter what age you are or where you're at," he said.

"Surf life saving can offer expereinces and skills you'll get at no other organisations: qualifications, leadership experience, incident management experience, teamwork, and you make friends for life.

"You get immense satisfaction from contributing to your community and saving lives, and preventing tragedy."

Not only does he appreciate the volunteers on the front line, he says the club wouldn't run without those who don't get in the water.

"Maria Birse is our grant writer, and she is a powerhouse around the club - yet she's scared of water," he said.

"You don't have to get wet to save a life."

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