Coffs Harbour lifeguard wins prestigious award

Coffs Harbour City Council’s popular Senior Lifeguard, Sonny Tisdell, was recently named Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguard of the Year 2010.

Lifeguards from across Australia voted for him to win the award at the recent Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguard Association (APOLA) conference. 

“The prestige and meaning of this award for both Sonny and Coffs Harbour cannot be underestimated,” said Coffs Harbour Mayor Keith Rhoades. “Tourism is the lifeblood of our region and being able to give visitors confidence in the safety of our beaches is an important aspect in attracting people here.”

Sonny has worked for Council for 13 years and is a lifelong member of the Sawtell Surf Lifesaving Club.

A large part of the award reflects his work in developing Council’s award winning Ocean Safety Surfer Award (OSSA) beach safety program. APOLA adopted this program as a standard for beach and water safety education at the conference.

Further discussions are to be held with key personnel in the industry, as well as the production crew from Logie Award winning television show, Bondi Rescue, to further develop the program into a professional presentation that all water safety groups can use.

“Sonny’s tireless work in promoting and running Council’s water safety education programs, his proactive approach on the beach with regards to general lifeguard duties, plus his training and mentoring skills with not just the trainees, but all staff, are all nothing short of remarkable,” said Council’s Manager Health, Chris Foley, who oversees the Lifeguard Service.

“Sonny is a deserving winner of this award and to be recognised by his peers in the Australian Lifeguard industry is a real achievement,” he said.

For further information on APOLA visit