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For the second time this season, Cooks Hill SLSC has won the prestigious National and NSW Rescue of the Month award thanks to the efforts of Mark Doherty who rescued a father and his two children at Bar Beach in February.

On Sunday 12 February 2017 at around 5:30pm, the club’s Director of Lifesaving had finished duties with Patrol 1 and was upstairs in the clubhouse when members of the public informed Mark there were two children struggling in a rip at the southern end of the beach.

Without hesitating, Mark ran downstairs to the patrol room, grabbed a rescue board and ran 300m south to the water’s edge and entered the 2-3ft swell. Mark noticed that the father of the children had also entered the water to assist them.

“There was a boy and a girl and I only thought it was the two but I saw their father swimming out as well so I had to keep track of all three of them,” Mark Doherty said.

Mark reached the children who were aged around seven and nine years old, both were conscious but were struggling to keep their heads above the water. Both children were pulled onto the rescue board and Mark checked if the father needed assistance but he advised he was okay.

“I got both the children onto the rescue board and started to paddle. I looked around and saw their father struggling to stay afloat so I had to turn around and paddle 20m back to assist him,” Mark Doherty said.

Once in chest-deep water, Mark got off the board and put the father on with the children and pushed them to shore. Back on the sand, the surf lifesaver checked the trio was okay and breathing normally.

“If the swell was any bigger I would’ve struggled, especially since I had the three of them on the rescue board. A few other lifesavers were on their way to help but weren’t needed as I had already brought the family to shore,” Mark Doherty said.

Mark says he was disappointed the family entered the water after the patrol had finished for the day and he gave them some advice about the safest time and place to swim – between the red and yellow flags. While the father did not speak much English, he appeared appreciative.

“This award means a lot to me because I’ve been with Cooks Hill SLSC since the 1980s and I’ve performed numerous rescues but other than telling your own family, most people would not be aware of your efforts. It’s great to be able to help educate people, particularly in this situation where the family would’ve struggled to make it back to shore,” Mark Doherty said.

“This will mean a lot for the club, especially since this is the second National and NSW Rescue of the Month award for the season. We put a lot of hard work into keeping our beach safe just like all surf lifesavers around the country so it’s amazing to receive this type of recognition.”

For official citations and past recipients please visit the Rescue of the Month Recognition Page.

Cooks Hill SLSC and Mark Doherty will receive their National Award on June 15 at the Parliamentary Friends of Surf Life Saving Ceremony at Parliament House, Canberra.

The SLSNSW Rescue of the Month aims to recognise excellence in lifesaving. Each month a ‘Rescue of the Month’ is awarded at State level for the most outstanding rescue performance for that period. Monthly winners have the chance become finalists for the SLSNSW Rescue of the Year which is presented at the annual Awards of Excellence.