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Role Models

Throughout your life, I believe you come across many famous people who you are truly inspirational. Either by their actions, their words, their achievements or their total commitment to work towards what they truly believe in. The five people who I have chosen as my ‘Inspirational Role Models’ are those who have inspired, empowered and motivated me (through their own journey in life) to follow a path where I too can become the ‘best version of myself’.

Although I never taught Alison, she first came to my attention as this extraordinary student who had decided to place her HSC ‘on hold’, and commit to a student exchange program to Sasebo, Japan at the end of Year 11. When I accompanied students to Sasebo (Japan) in 1985, I met Alison, and after travelling through Japan, I came to understand just hard it must have been for her to live and be educated, in a country where you are treated as a foreigner in all respects. Upon her return to Australia, Alison flourished in her final year of schooling. Although I lost contact with Alison for nearly 35 years, I decided to make contact with her after I heard and read about her involvement in cofounding, mad4Africa, a non- profit organisation that focuses on ‘primary school education and the provision of physiotherapy treatment and rehabilitation services for children with disabilities in rural areas’ . Unbeknown to Alison, her achievements with mad4africa and the advice that she gave me, has been instrumental in my decision to continue my journey in fighting this disease. Which I might say, by following ‘my own curiosity ’ has led me to creating my ‘Tree of Awakening your Positivity’.

When I first met Bella as a nipper at South Curl Curl SLSC (over 10 years ago), she was a very shy and intelligent young girl, who loved swimming and playing in the surf. In the years that followed, she decided to have a crack at the multi-disciplined event known as Champion Lifesaver.

Written by Bella - At the end of my first year of training with Bill and Peter, I won a gold medal at the Northern Beaches branch competition, then gold at the NSW State Titles and finally, gold at the Australian National Titles. I am the first female from my surf club to ever win an individual gold medal, and the first U15 female from NSW to ever win the Australian title. Bill and Peter brought out qualities in me that I did not even realise I had: strength, endurance, competitiveness and determination.

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“A good coach can change a game, but a great coach can change a life.”

To achieve my dream of becoming a marine biologist, Bill tutored me in Chemistry and Biology free of charge. After months of tutoring, I was accepted to the University of Sydney where I studied an undergraduate double degree in Science and Arts, majoring in Biology, Immunology and English. Now, I am in my Honours year at the University of New South Wales investigating the degradation of plastics in the marine environment. The passion for ocean protection and conservancy also stuck with me, and this year I co-founded a not-for-profit, ocean solutions hub called Sustainable Ocean Alliance Australia. With Bill and Peter’s guidance and encouragement I developed a respect and reverence for the ocean, eradicated my fear of it, advanced my knowledge of first aid and resuscitation, and studied the foundations of scientific knowledge that are crucial in my academic life today.

Alison Hawksley

Bella Charlesworth

A Nipper is a child aged from 5 to 13 in the Australian surf life-saving clubs.


click here to read about Champion Lifesaver

Bailey Skelton

Written by Bailey - I’ve known Bill as long as I can remember, as he was an active member at South Curl Curl surf club when I started nippers at the age of 6. I never particularly struggled in school, until Year 11 and 12 presented some unfamiliar challenges. It became apparent I didn’t know how to study and I was behind everyone else, which made school very unmotivating. As a family friend, Bill offered to help tutor me in both Physics and Chemistry. During these final school years, Bill quickly went from being a tutor to a mentor. His meticulous and detailed knowledge accompanied by his unjudgmental explanations made this section of my life significantly more comforting and less stressful; skills I have embedded into everyday life. Bill’s passion for science influenced my direction after school, as I now study Biomedical Physics at UTS. Bill is a true mentor to me, and his interest and devotion to my learning shaped the person I am today. 

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Bailey is top right in this photo

Mike Pawley

Having grown up on the Northern Beaches, I became aware of Mike Pawley, not just because of his outstanding cricket ability and his contribution to this sport. But more for his passion and commitment to the local community and the plight of those that are less fortunate. The name of Mike Pawley as a sportsman, coach, businessman and a man of impeccable integrity, was always reported in the local newspaper, The Manly Daily, and the talk of the local people as a person who had a ‘legendary status’. I never thought, as a part-owner 

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of our family restaurant that I would personally come know this amazing man and his wife Suzanne. Over the past two years, I have valued his kind words, inspirational advice to myself and his genuine interest in the welfare of Peter, Joshua and myself, especially during COVID-19.

Liam Yeates

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Although Liam is my son, and every parent is entitled to be biased when it comes to their children. I do however, believe it would be an injustice to not include Liam in this list. Throughout, his childhood, Liam was known as a natural musician and talented sportsman. By the age of 16, he had represented Australia in Kayaking at the 2013 ‘Olympic Hopefuls’ regatta in Poland, become the first male competitor from New South Wales to win the Branch, State and Australian U/15 Champion Lifesaver title and travelled to China to play the trombone with his College Band. He then decided that his academic studies were more important, so he put everything else ‘on hold’, and changed to a more academic school so that he could achieve an ATAR that would allow him to achieve his dream.

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To Alison and Mike, your advice, words of encouragement and support have been a foundation and acted as a guiding force in my journey. To Bella, Bailey and Liam, you have shown me that nothing is impossible, if you are committed and passionate about what you want to achieve in life.

After completing a combined Actuary/Applied Finance degree (with a University Medal of Academic Excellence) he then entered the workforce as a data analysist at Quantum. For the last three years, he has been part of a team involved in setting up an office for Quantum in San Francisco. 

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