NVW: Maeka Free
She’s only 14 yet Maeka Free has already dedicated more than 280 hours to keeping beachgoers safe.
Since gaining her Surf Rescue Certificate in 2018, Free has even performed a rescue where she responded to two adult men struggling in the surf. She bravely swam out and supported them with a rescue tube before additional help arrived.
“I feel proud to be a lifesaver and help others out in the community by keeping them safe at the beach,” Free said.
If she isn’t on patrol you will often find her helping out with at Southport and Albatross Nippers.
“I love helping those kids and seeing their smiles.”
“There are different parts of nippers so everyone can be included, you can do what your strength is like running or swimming.”
Her dedication was recognised by Surf Life Saving Queensland when she was named the 2018/19 Breaka Under-14 Junior Surf Lifesaver of the Year.
Free encourages club members to nominate their peers for this year’s Awards of Excellence.
“It made me feel special being nominated and it is nice to recognise the people who have really tried throughout the season.”
Her advice for nominees this year is “be confident and just be you.”
“The interview and awards night was actually a pretty fun experience, I got to meet a lot of new people.”
“There were other young people nominated for my award that I got to meet from across the state, but I also got to meet people from different areas of lifesaving.”
Some of Maeka’s highlights off the beach since winning the award include;
• Delivering a speech on behalf of all Queensland nippers at Parliament House
• Going for a flight in the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter and learning about the important work the service does to keep beachgoers safe
• Various media commitments promoting surf lifesaving and nippers
Article by Chloe Maxwell
Header photo courtesy of Jack Tran – Office of the Premier of Queensland