Surf hero of the Year 2013: Charlotte Banfield; a 15-year old girl who overcame heart surgery and went on to the semi-finals of a surf competition is set to be named “Surf Hero of the Year” at a national awards ceremony on Sunday.
Charlotte Banfield, from Penryn in Cornwall, scooped the award which was sponsored by The Wave Project and UK Pro Surf.
Charlotte, who also has a diagnosis of autism, underwent surgery last November to treat her weak heart. Earlier this year she had to go to Bristol Hospital for further cardiac treatment. However, the determined teenager recovered her fitness and went on to reach the semi-final of a national surf competition in July.
She underwent further surgery on her legs in September, but once again bounced back, and was back in the water surfing earlier this month.
Wave Project chief executive Joe Taylor, who was on the selection panel, said: “Charlotte is a real inspiration to other young people who have to overcome difficulties and setbacks to achieve things they want to do. It was a very strong field of nominees for this award, but the panel felt her courage and determination make her a deserved winner of the title Surf Hero of the Year”.
Helen and Joel Blackman, from Croyde, Devon, have jointly won the Surf Volunteer of the Year award for their work with young people.
The couple have been active in numerous community surf projects in their local area, giving up most of their spare time to volunteer with surf projects, including Croyde Surf Life Lifesaving Club , Christian Surfers UK and the Wave Project in Devon.
The Inclusive Surf School of the Year award went to Spectrum Swansea. The South Wales-based club are entirely voluntary run, but have helped over 100 children on the autistic spectrum and their families to learn to surf.
Chair Anna Parton said: “We are absolutely chuffed to win this award. It recognises all the hard work that has been put in by local families to deliver inclusive surf sessions in Swansea.”
The final award in the Surf Hero category was Surf Instructor of the Year, which was awarded to Harry Bennett of Bigbury Surf School in Devon, for all his work with disadvantaged young people.
Dave Reed, from the UK Pro Surf Association, said: “We are delighted to support these awards, which recognise all the achievements of people across the country in making surfing an inclusive sport for all.