MEMBERS of Poppit Sands Lifesaving Club are riding the crest of a wave after being named Nipper Club of the Year by the Surf Lifesaving Association of Wales.

This and the fact senior member Tom Rees was awarded his Welsh cap at the recent SLSA Wales presentation evening capped a tremendous season for the North Pembrokeshire club.

Every year the Surf Lifesaving Youth Development Commission Wales, asks all its member clubs to nominate a Nipper Club, that they believe have achieved some of the following criteria to gain the title of SLSA Wales Nipper Club of the Year.

These are : Has shown improved development and skills throughout the year; has supported events and development schemes; sustained its membership and growth; created an enjoyable club environment with good training skills; has promoted Surf Lifesaving in Wales and G.B. 

Chris Braggins, Chair of the Youth Development Commission, SLSA Wales : “I am delighted to say Poppit Sands Nipper section, not only met some of the criteria but we believe, you met all of the criteria and also received the most nominations.

"I was delighted to award a shield and certificate  to your Club Treasurer, Louise Rees, to take back to Poppit Sands for the next 12 months.

“Many, many, congratulations on behalf of SLSA Wales and I look forward to seeing you all over the coming months at the Stillwaters Championships, Carnivals, Nipper Camp and the 2024 Nipper Championships.”

Liwsi Harries, club secretary said:  “We are thrilled to have been nominated for this award, and overjoyed to have been named Welsh Nipper Club of the Year. Our Nippers really are amazing.

"We have had a fantastic 12 months, packed with so many wonderful experiences. Hosting the National Championships at Poppit Sands was the pinnacle, where we welcomed all the Nipper Clubs from across Wales for a weekend of incredible competing. We’ve also purchased our first Inflatable Rescue Boat, featured on an S4C renovation programme and continued to provide training of the highest standard to all our members.”

Also receiving an award at the presentation evening was Tomos Rees, a senior member at Poppit Sands SLSC. Tom was presented with his Welsh cap, and not only represented Wales at the Celtic Cup Championships, but came away with a gold medal in both the Men’s Open Sprint and Beach Flags. Wales were the overall winners of the Celtic Cup for the first time since 2010.

“Being named Nipper Club of the Year is a great achievement to top off what has been a very busy and successful campaign for us,” vice-chairman Andrew Thomas told the Tivyside. “The club really seems to be going from strength to strength at the moment.”

Another significant achievement was the bronze medal of Zoe Thomas in the beach flags competition at the Great Britain championships in Dorset back in the summer.

Tivyside Advertiser: Tom Rees, of Poppit Sands, was recently awarded his senior Welsh cap.Tom Rees, of Poppit Sands, was recently awarded his senior Welsh cap. (Image: Supplied)

“It seems the SLSA committee have been pretty impressed by how the club has developed,” added Mr Thomas. “We hosted the Welsh Championships back In July, having attended the Nipper Camp down in St Davids in May.

“We currently have 150 active members along with a hard-working committee and several good coaches supported by parents who help us out with training.

“We actively encourage their participation as it’s so important having continuity going forward.

“Some parents understandably tend to finish when their children move on, but we’d like to retain as many as possible while at the same time encouraging new parents to get on board.”

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Nipper Manager Elin Rees said: “We’re absolutely delighted for all the kids – this is a really inclusive and supportive club so to have won this award is just so thrilling as it clearly recognises our team spirit and ethos.”

She added that the involvement and support of parents was also integral to the club’s success and a number of courses had been launched for volunteers.

“What people have to realise, though, is that Poppit Sands Surf Lifesaving Club is not just about winning events, it’s also about gaining skills and building confidence in the water,” she added.

“There are far more participants of water sports now – kayakers, paddleboarders as well as surfers – than during the days when I was a lifeguard, so water safety is obviously paramount.

“While we are lucky enough to live in a beautiful part of the country, we must never lose sight of the fact that enjoying our coastal waters is not without risk.”