Young Sawtellian of the Year Margaret McConnachie and Sawtellian of the Year Mick Migavigan.
Young Sawtellian of the Year Margaret McConnachie and Sawtellian of the Year Mick Migavigan.

Beach conversion complete as ‘farm boy’ wins Sawtell honour

Fifty years ago, a self-described "farm boy" from Ebor would cruise down dirt tracks with his family in an old FJ Holden, ready to be burnt to a crisp by the summer sun on a seaside holiday in Sawtell.

Now that farm boy, Mick Migavigan, has been recognised as the Sawtellian of the Year, for his tireless work for the Surf Life Saving Club and beyond.

The Sawtellian of the Year and the inaugural Young Sawtellian of the Year were announced on Friday at the 101st Sawtell Super Fun Day with Mr Migavigan and 15-year-old Margaret McConnachie taking out top honours.

The New Year's Day tradition recognises those who have made a significant contribution to the betterment of the town.

"I am giving away my age a bit but I can remember coming down to Sawtell and the trees in the middle (of the main street) were half the size," he said.

"As a kid coming from Ebor - to see the beach was just so foreign then. It was an adventure you know, coming down the mountain, I don't think it was sealed in those days. 

"And my love of the village grew." 

Sawtellian of the year Mick Migavigan at the Sawtell Super Fun Day 2021. Photo: Tim Jarrett
Sawtellian of the year Mick Migavigan at the Sawtell Super Fun Day 2021. Photo: Tim Jarrett

Admitting to some nerves before the big announcement because he "had an inkling" something was up, Mr Migavigan said it was quite an honour to be recognised for his work, but emphasised his efforts through the years not done alone.

Mr Migavigan has been a volunteer at the Surf Life Saving Club for decades and was instrumental in founding a local morning swimming group, which is 30 years strong, and starting the triathlon club.

And speaking with a warm smile and his tongue placed firmly in his cheek, Mr Migavigan said there was something else that set him apart.

"Everybody is a Sawtellian of the Year because they are all helping people and doing their bit (especially through the pandemic), but I am bit eccentric and have a funny hat so I make sure I get seen doing these things."

"If you mow the lawn, do it when they can hear it, you see - and then they know you are around."

The first ever Young Sawtellian of the Year, Margaret McConnachie, has been training with the Sawtell Surf Club since she was just five years old, becoming a volunteer patrol member four years ago.

She has also gained a reputation as a fierce competitor, adding a number of Surf Life Saving and Iron Woman accolades to her list of sporting achievements.

Young Sawtellian of the Year Margaret McConnachie. Photo: Tim Jarrett
Young Sawtellian of the Year Margaret McConnachie. Photo: Tim Jarrett

Ms McConnachie said making the Under-17 Iron Woman final in Burleigh Heads was a real highlight given she was just 15, and she also took out first and third place in events at the SLS Country Championships.

She laughs when discussing her rigorous training schedule, and said "she would hope" she is a lot fitter than the average teenager, singling out her coaches, Greg Russell, Shaun Golding and Kim Roach for helping her get to where she was.

Ms McConnachie is also a serious competitor out of the water, playing rugby league with the Sawtell Panthers and Rugby Union with the SCU Marlins and was looking forward to building on last year's work.

"(Winning the award) is pretty special," she said.

"I love the surf club, I grew up in it and it has always been my favourite.

"We are out in the water every single day training and getting ready for competitions."



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