A Ballina Shire lifeguard has been named the NSW Lifeguard of the Year.

Kayla Laverty, 21, a member of the Lennox Head-Alstonville club, received her honour at a function held on Saturday night in Ballina.

She has been an ALS lifeguard for the last four seasons and has worked on some tough beaches including Salt, Hastings Point and Pottsville in the Tweed Shire before being appointed the senior lifeguard this season at Lennox Head.  

Kayla is well-known to the local community for her caring nature and she has appeared in many family albums and Facebook pages when local visitors all want to have their photo taken with the friendly lifeguard.

She is highly regarded by her peers in northern NSW and junior guards enjoy working with Kayla due to the outstanding mentoring and training she provides.

“Knowing that it is a treacherous stretch of coastline, Kayla works hard to ensure the optimal beach safety at Lennox Head,” said NSW Chief Lifeguard, Stephen Leahy.

“She is always quick to recognise someone in trouble and has performed some brilliant rescue work this season.”

Kayla has been a member of the Lennox Head Surf Life Saving Club for the past 11 years and lifesaving runs in the family.  
Her father, Mark, is the Club Captain of Lennox Head SLSC and her siblings, Matt and Justine, are patrolling members of Lennox and Matt is in his second year as an ALS lifeguard.

A number of other lifeguards were recognised for their outstanding efforts this summer. These were:

TWEED SHIRE
 
Lifeguard of the Year
Katrina Wilkinson
 
Rookie Lifeguard of the Year
Dylan Klein
 
BYRON SHIRE
 
Lifeguard of the Year
Rob Hanley
 
Rookie Lifeguard o f the Year
Stella Watson
 
BALLINA/RICHMOND VALLEY
 
Lifeguard of the Year
Kayla Laverty
 
Rookie Lifeguard of the Year
Ben Kirk
 
CLARENCE VALLEY
 
Lifeguard of the Year
Mitch Cooper & Sam Little
 
Rookie Lifeguard of the Year
Rebecca McPherson
 
BELLINGEN / NAMBUCCA
 
Lifeguard of the Year
Melissa Bell
 
Rookie Lifeguard of the Year
Magenta Hopper
 
The end-of-season function capped off a busy season for lifeguards. The Australian Lifeguard Service, in partnership with local councils, patrolled more than 40 beaches along the northern NSW coast during the warmer months, utilising more than 120 lifeguards.

The weather was a vast improvement on last year and beach and surf conditions were very good. Lifeguards reported big crowds with some beaches reporting that the number of beach-goers was at its highest level in many years.

354 people were rescued by lifeguards during the season and 52,767 people were warned about swimming or surfing in dangerous conditions. 2307 people were provided with emergency care treatment, many of these were for bluebottle stings and 39 lost people were reunited with loved ones.

Mr Leahy also paid tribute to the lifeguards. “It’s an absolute credit to the team who have provided an outstanding service to the community under some very trying conditions,” he said.

“I believe that we have some of the best lifeguards in the world based here in northern NSW. They have made sure the public remained safe under a wide variety of weather and surf conditions. Lifeguarding is more than just a job and their dedication has made sure our beaches have remained safe over the summer.

“Their efforts have upheld the true traditions of surf lifesaving in Australia of vigilance and service.”

The Australian Lifeguard Service also recognised the community for remaining safe this summer. “We applaud the community for enjoying the beach safely,” said Mr Leahy.

“Many people heeded the advice and warnings we issued over summer, especially during periods of dangerous surf. We are certainly impressed with the behaviour of visitors to the beaches.”