Australian Whitewater Grand Prix Recognised with President’s Award


The achievements of grassroots sport and Australia’s paddling volunteers were at the centre of this year’s Paddle Australia Awards 2020, which for the first time were held in a digital format last Friday, 30 October 2020, and broadcast live via Paddle Australia’s Facebook page:  

Following a challenging year, with many paddling competitions cancelled, the Olympic and Paralympic Games postponed and clubs having to close for months during lockdown, this year’s award focus was on the community level of sport as well as on the people who keep the sport and its clubs going:  the volunteers, the coaches and instructors, the competition officials – i.e. everyone who is the backbone of paddling. 

“It’s been an extraordinary year, with bushfires, floods and a pandemic, and I would like to acknowledge the resilience, adaptability and care shown by the paddling community in recent months,” Paddle Australia CEO Phil Jones opened the awards night. 

“The vision of Paddle Australia is for a united paddling community and, for some time, we’ve been considering ways to better recognise those many dedicated people that continue to contribute to paddling day in and day out.  Those people without whom paddling would simply be unable to operate.  So, with the support of our State Paddle Associations and the support of our Athletes Commission, we landed on this year’s format,” Jones explained the format of the 2020 awards.

Hosted by renowned sports presenter Louise Ransome, the Paddle Australia Awards 2020 celebrated three National Award categories, with finalists nominated by the six State Paddle Associations following their respective state paddle awards (see below for the full list of State Paddle Associations’ winners). 

The Instructor/Guide of the Year Award was presented to Vicky Bonwick of Derwent Canoe Club, while the Club Coach of the Year Award went to Bayswater Paddlesports Club’s Andrew Crowthers.  The inaugural Volunteer of the Year Award was received by Penrith Valley Canoeing’s Eilleen Callaghan (NSW).  

The awards show also celebrated the President’s AwardServices to Paddling Award and Life Membership with this year’s President’s Award going to the Australian Whitewater Grand Prix.

Laura White (NSW) was recognised with the Services to Paddling Award, while Martin Finn (SA) and Jeremy Dunn (QLD) were honoured with Life Membership for their long-standing valued service to the sport in Australia. 

“These awards are designed to honour the best in the paddling community and highlight the incredible contributions made by volunteers at all levels of the organisation.  Congratulations to all the award winners and finalists.  To our Life Members, Martin Finn and Jerry Dunn, this is a well-deserved recognition for your services and commitment to paddling in Australia.  You’ve joined a group of extraordinary individuals as Life Members,” Paddle Australia President Andrea McQuitty said about the awards. 

McQuitty also recognised the challenges of the past year, which ultimately led to the President Award’s honours going to the Australian Whitewater Grand Prix – a whitewater event series, including the Lea Race, Snowy River Extreme Race and the North Esk Paddle Fest.