Local Hero December 2020
You may have noticed a small group of people on Saturdays working hard to rehabilitate the dune area of the beach. The Bushcare volunteer group is led by Bernadine Mitchell.
She and her family have been part of the community since 1981, with her two sons attending Copa Public School and Kincumber High. Bernadine will be familiar to many Copa locals as she worked as a casual teacher at Copa PS from when it first opened for a number of years and is still a casual teacher at Kincumber Public. With surfing part of her DNA, she was also a patrolling member of the Surf Club for ten years and still regularly gets out there on her bodyboard.
Bernadine has a long history of volunteering work to beautify Copa, going as far back as the original grant application to refurbish what was then an overgrown and unlovely park near the shops. Subsequently renamed Shaun Brinklow Park to honour a local family and recently upgraded, the park is now a fantastic facility for families and kids.
Bernadine and a group of committed locals then turned their attention to Susan Fahey Park and formed the Copacabana Landcare Group in 1997, starting work in the bush behind the park. At that time, Council planned to locate the stormwater drain across the rocks near the rockpool - Bernadine helped band the community together to oppose that and preserve that area which is a breeding environment for small sea creatures. Bernadine worked with others to get a grant to build the viewing platform opposite the shops ‘Bonnie Lookout’, erect the information signs dotted around Copa and to begin the work of rehabilitating the dunes, which had been bulldozed.
The volunteer Bushcare group was formed to preserve and improve the native vegetation in the dunes which was over-run with weeds. Their work includes planting, weeding, seed collection and propagation and over the years they have done an incredible job from the surf club to the end of the shops, removing lantana, bitou bush and asparagus fern, all of which are noxious plants.
The success of the Copa Bushcare group has been acknowledged by Sydney Landcare, with representatives scheduled to visit early in the new year to study the dunes and learn from the work done there. The group has a regular crew which meets on the first Saturday of each month, working from 2-4pm. They always welcome new members and no particular skills are required. The group is very warm and friendly and includes people who have holiday houses here and want to connect with the community. It’s a great way to meet local people and make a contribution.
Bernadine says she is ‘trying to retire’ but this dynamo is always busy – she has recently returned from a 5-day hike in Green Gully with a local women’s hiking group. What with surfing, yoga, hiking, teaching and her extensive volunteer work, Bernadine obviously has an incredible zest for life. We salute her for her decades of service and thank her on behalf of the Copa community.
Local Hero September 2020
When it comes to unsung heroes Gay Langbridge is a shining example. Over the years she has volunteered countless hours in key local roles – both formal and informal – that have helped shape Copa and make it the wonderful place it is. Although Gay is very self-effacing and not sure why she was singled out for this tribute, we think her incredible record of service to the community is something to be celebrated.
It’s something of a mystery why Gay was attracted to Copa in the first place as she admits she ‘wasn’t particularly beachy’. Gay says she was a bit scared of the surf and not a strong swimmer when she moved here, coming to Copa from Canberra via Sydney in 1993 ‘almost by accident’ when a family member living in Lisarow suggested she look at living on the coast here. Gay and her young daughter moved to Copa and they have certainly made the most of the beach lifestyle over the years, with two brothers added to the clan (all still living in Copa).
Gay’s service as a volunteer has included stints as Copa Surf Club President for 3 years from 2011, and she is also a past President of Copa PS P&C Association and was a regular helper at the school canteen. Gay has also been actively involved with the CCA and has a history of lobbying Council against inappropriate development, as well as fund-raising for much-needed equipment and funding at Shaun Brinklow Park (which has more recently benefited from a major upgrade).
Gay’s association with the surf club started because she wanted to get to know more people in her new community and because she wanted to get her kids, particularly her daughter Hannah, involved in local activities and sports. With Hannah enrolled in Nippers, Gay became a familiar face helping out at barbeques and fundraisers, wrangling kids at carnivals and then becoming the Club’s First Aid Officer, eventually being elected as President in 2011. Among many achievements as President, Gay instigated ‘Sundowners’ as a way for locals to get together socially and enjoy meeting new people.
Gay overcame her fear of the water, gaining her Bronze medallion and competing for ten years in Masters events, particularly Board Paddling. She is still involved in patrol duties, with the season early this year truncated because of the pandemic. She enjoys the sense of camaraderie with her fellow-volunteers and welcoming families, old and new to Club activities. She still takes a board out every now and again when time permits.
Gay has managed to fit all this volunteering in between work, running a household and raising kids. She is a midwife, who divides her time between Gosford Hospital and a local GP’s surgery. The apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree with Gay’s daughter, Hannah now an active volunteer at the SLSC, doing patrol work and supervising Nippers as well as being a team member at Copa RFS.
Gay says that the best thing about all of her volunteer work has been developing friendships with many locals. She describes Copa as ‘a close-knit community of nice people, not too busy, with just enough shops and not too many tourists during peak season’. (We’ll see what this year brings!).
On behalf of the community, we thank Gay for all of her contributions to life in Copa and for staying involved in volunteering for so many years.
Local Hero June 2020
Paul Clements – THE MAN IN THE T-REX SUIT
If you’ve noticed a large T-Rex running around our streets, the man inside the costume is Copa local, Paul Clements.
Paul’s family moved to Copa about 20 years ago and he went to Erina High. Since then he’s lived in Copa on and off but his work has taken him all over NSW. He studied to become a nurse at Newcastle Uni Ourimbah campus and his first postings sent him outback to Broken Hill and Wilcannia. Then, after a stint in Newcastle, Paul came back to settle in Copa and help care for his Mum after his father passed away. But he’s not simply a man who dresses up for fun runs – he’s also an Oncology Registered Nurse, now commuting daily to Royal North Shore for his work with oncology and haematology patients.
The idea of wearing fun costumes came out of a dare from a colleague on a 5k fun run in Newcastle – she wanted to be chased by a T-Rex, so Paul obliged. Since then he’s added Bob the Minion to his wardrobe. Paul said ‘Well I have a Malibu board that I’m starting to master on the waves in Copa, and I call it Bob the Board. So the Minion costume idea came out of that’.
Paul said kids get a bit of a shock when they first see him in the T-Rex costume but they love to be chased around and often grab his tail, enjoying the pure fun and silliness of it all. For Paul, it’s an antidote to the serious nature of his work at the hospital.
He’s not all that comfortable with the hero tag and says it’s ‘business as usual’ at Royal North Shore, although because his patients are immuno-supressed and more vulnerable to infection, COVID-19 has naturally brought additional challenges. He and his colleagues are very mindful of checking for symptoms and there are additional screenings and testings in place and obviously the protocols are strict in the oncology ward. The staff are doing more ‘team nursing’ and are routinely tested. Paul said these days it’s ‘slightly more stressful, as much for the patients as us – they just want to get their chemo done, but any symptoms mean they get treated for those first and then have to wait a week before chemo can commence, so any delays are very difficult for them’.
Paul loves his job and plans to dress up in his costumes and visit the paediatric wards at the hospital once the pandemic has passed. We’re sure he will bring a lot of fun and laughter to kids and families who really need a break, and we’re proud to call him our Copa Local Hero for this issue. We thank him for his service and community spirit.
What a legend! A great positive outlook on life that we could all learn from.
Local Hero March 2020
Callum is 18 years old and Copa born and bred. He’ll be familiar to some of you as he regularly surfs Copa point in his ‘down time’. We’re not sure how he even has any spare time, considering his achievements competing on the state, national and world stage. Here are just a few highlights:
Molokai 2 Oahu World Championships, Hawaii
In 2017, at just 16 years and 88 days old, Callum became the youngest ever to compete in the World Men’s 18-29 years old Solo Prone Stock Board Category. This iconic race is known around the world as one of the toughest races in any sport. It is a paddleboard race across hazardous waters from the island of Molokai to the island of Oahu in Hawaii through the Kaiwi Channel (also known as the Channel of Bones). The race is 52 Kilometres long and Callum achieved 5th place, taking 6 hours and 32 minutes to complete the event.
2018/19 Australian Ocean Racing Series Champion – Open Men’s Prone Paddle-board category
Callum competed in 6 races in the series for 4 wins:
Pacifica Downwind (Woolgoolga to Coffs Harbour); Charles Stewart Memorial Classic (Mona Vale to Fisherman’s Beach, Long Reef); Moon Island Ocean Race (Catherine Hill Bay to Blacksmiths Beach); Manly Wharf- Bridge to Beach (Harbour Bridge to Manly Wharf). Callum finished 2nd at the 20 Beaches Ocean Classic and won a 3rd place podium position at the Gold Coast Classic. The results secured the Australian Championship win for Callum in March 2019 with an impressive 4443 points.
Gold Medal 2019 Oceania U20 Men’s Discus Champion
Callum was selected to represent Australia in the 2019 Oceania Athletics Championships, Townsville QLD, June 2019. After a terrific series of personal best throws (his best being 43.47 metres with the 1.75kg discus) Callum went on to win the Gold medal for Australia.
Callum has been crowned New South Wales Discus Champion 3 times:
2019 NSW All Schools Athletics Championships, Sept – 1st place.
2017 NSW All Schools Athletics Championships, 1st place.
2017 NSW Junior & Youth Athletics Championships, 1st place.
Callum’s achievements ‘off the field’ are just as impressive
Callum’s work ethic and willingness to give his best have been recognised in many other special awards including 2020 ‘Youth of the Year’ winner, Central Coast Australia Day Awards and 2019 ‘Youth Sportsperson of the Year’, Central Coast Sports Awards. Callum completed his HSC last year and achieved fantastic results. He’s now working as an apprentice carpenter for a local builder.
Callum will again represent New South Wales at the 2020 Australian Athletics Championships this month in the U20 Men’s Discus Final. We wish him the very best of luck and look forward to an update on his goals and wins over the coming year.
Another Copa local we can all be proud of.
Local Hero December 2019
Congratulations to Zoe Evason, Year 4 student at Copa Public School for representing her school and the Central Coast region as a State Finalist at the 2019 Premier’s Spelling Bee held in Sydney on November 8.
Zoe’s proud parents Sarah and Geoff migrated to Australia in 2005 from Canada. Now Australian
citizens, they have lived in Copa for 3 years and love the lifestyle here. Sarah says that Zoe is an enthusiastic reader and her favourite books include the Harry Potter series and Keeper of the
Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger. No doubt that regular reading is an important tool for improving spelling skills and Zoe also spent many hours studying in preparation for the Spelling Bee, having been given a list of several hundred words to practise months ahead of the competition. Mastering the list took many hours of writing the words down, oral practise and sticking the difficult words on to her bedroom walls so she could memorise them! Mentored by Copa PS teacher, Craig Mitchell, Zoe put in the hard yards to win a medal for herself and online access to Macquarie Dictionary and Thesaurus for the whole school.
It’s great to see a ‘Copa kid’ suitably rewarded for academic effort, and we wish her every success in her continuing education at Copa PS.
Well done Zoe!
Local Hero September 2019
If you’ve ever seen the movie ‘The Big Blue’ you’ll know that Freediving entails holding your breath for what seems like an impossibly dangerous time, while descending to great depths. Adam is the current and 8 x Australian record holder - at 99 metres (free immersion).
As you can see from Adam’s incredible images, he spends a lot of time under the water – only natural for someone who spent his early years surfing in Copa. Actually Adam says he was more of a bookworm than a surfer and that he ended up as the National record-holder and a professional Freediver by accident. Or as he puts it ‘an act of serendipity’.
Adam grew up in Copa and went to primary school here, then Kincumber High. His proud parents, Haim and Andrea have lived in Copa for over 25 years. Adam visits a lot with his wife Erin and 3-month-old baby Eleanor from their home in Gorokan.
How did Adam get into Freediving?
After he finished uni (where he studied Theatre) Adam took off for South East Asia, landing in Koh Tao in Thailand. Here he segued from a scuba diving course into a basic beginner course in Freediving, which he’d never heard of until then. Adam instantly loved it and stayed in Koh Tao, training and ‘getting pretty good at it’. He travelled to other diving meccas around the world to train, including South America.
He started to teach other people and thought he might be able to make a living out of it. His timing was serendipitous. Freediving now attracts a few thousand divers to competitions all over the world, mostly in South East Asia, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean – the places with the calmest oceans. It’s a very fast-growing sport and Adam is now an expert professional, running a successful business with Erin - teaching others, guiding and managing dive tours all over the planet and of course, competing.
What is Freediving and who can do it?
According to Adam, Freediving is statistically the safest extreme sport in the world and ‘long breath holds are something that people can do quite easily, it’s just not something we are usually taught or think we can do’. He says that someone who attends a beginner course, who has no diving experience, can be diving to 20 metres in two days. His students come from all ages and backgrounds. Some are into spear-fishing, scuba diving or surfing and want to try something new in the water. Others are interested in seeing more of ‘what’s down there’. His photographs provide an amazing insight into the world beneath the surface.
Adam is the founder and organiser of an event called Deep Week, which brings the best Freedivers, Freediving instructors and Freediving experts from all over the world to one place, where they share knowledge and maximise learning.
Adam also runs courses at Terrigal Haven if you want to give Freediving a try. And if you want to see him doing an actual dive, click on the link to his website, where you can see a live dive on Adam’s YouTube channel. While you’re there, read about his upcoming Mount Gambier Freedive Trip (5-7 October) – beginners welcome.
Adam is a true champion and we can be very proud of him, a high-achieving Copa local.
Local Hero June 2019
Meet Summer Klein, a swimming champion from Copa Public School. Summer travelled to Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre in April to compete at the NSW Primary Schools State Swimming Championships and achieved fantastic results.
Her representative journey began this year with some amazing performances at the school swimming carnival in February. From here, Summer qualified to represent Copa PS at the Southern Central Coast Zone Championships. Again, Summer performed brilliantly, finishing the meet with 4 gold medals.
These stellar results qualified her to compete at the Sydney North Regional Championships. At this meet she continued to better her PBs across all strokes and she earnt a gold medal in the butterfly and silver medals in the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle and breaststroke.
Summer’s tremendous performance at the regional championships meant that she qualified to swim at the prestigious NSW State Championships. Over two days in April, 1,527 students from every corner of NSW came together to represent their Schools, Zones and Regions to compete at Sydney’s Olympic pool. Summer’s hard work and rigorous training program paid off! She continued to better her times and finished the NSW State championships with more outstanding results:
4th – 50m butterfly
7th – 50m breaststroke
8th – 100m freestyle
11th – 50m freestyle
On behalf of the community, we congratulate Summer and wish her well in her swimming career. We have no doubt she has a great future in competitive swimming and are proud to claim her as a Copa Local Hero.
Local Hero March 2019
Corey is an accomplished Surf Lifesaving champion who grew up right here, starting with Copa Nippers at the age of six. He won two State titles when he was in the Under 8s and many Branch and State medals for Copacabana SLSC in a wide variety of events before he moved to Terrigal SLSC at the age of 15. He attended Copa Public School and Terrigal High. Two years ago he moved up to the Gold Coast, where he now competes for Currumbin Vikings SLSC. His favourite events are Board and Ironman.
Now aged 21, Corey has an impressive array of titles under his belt, including fantastic results at the World Surf Lifesaving titles in Adelaide at Glenelg in November 2018. He came 2nd in the individual Board event and in the team events achieved Gold in Board Rescue; Gold in Tube Rescue and Silver in Taplin Relay for a total of 2 gold and 3 silver medals. Currumbin Vikings were crowned the second best club in the world at this event from the 40+ countries represented.
Corey is currently sitting in 2nd place in the Board category in the Ocean Six Series and 15th place in the Nutrigrain Iron Man series. In the upcoming Queensland State Championships, Corey has been invited along by his sponsors, Engine, to participate in a clinic with some of the best Ironmen and Ironwomen in the world, where he will be signing posters and talking to fans.
Corey’s next big goal is to make the Australian World Team for Italy 2020.
His weekly training session schedule will no doubt help him achieve that goal and is something all our young Copa competitors could aspire to.
Monday to Friday – Swim
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday - Run
Monday & Friday – Ski
Tuesday & Thursday – Board
Wednesday & Saturday – Ironman
His favourite training session is ‘Any session with sick runners or pumping waves!’ and his favourite quote “Be grateful with everything you have and you will be successful in everything you do” (Conor McGregor). Sounds like Corey is a humble and very grounded champion and we wish him all the very best in his chosen sport.
His achievements have done Copa proud.
Corey lists his Coach, Michael King and his parents, Copa locals Paul Fletcher and Laney Bell as his mentors. Dad Paul supplied much of the information for this story and we are very happy to name Corey our inaugural Copa News ‘Local Hero’.
His Instagram handle is
@coreyfletcher if you’d like to check it out or go to: