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There was a touch of summer to help shake off the winter blues in the nation’s capital on Thursday as surf lifesavers from two NSW clubs were formally recognised for their courageous rescue efforts earlier this year.

North Wollongong’s Patrol 4 and Mark Doherty from Cooks Hill both received their National Rescue of the Month medallions and awards at the quarterly Parliamentary Friends of Surf Life Saving ceremony at Parliament House.

The patrol team from the Illawarra received their award for January after they successfully rescued four beachgoers following an incident where one man slipped off the rocks and his friends got into difficulty as they tried to rescue him at the northern end of North Wollongong Beach on January 2.

Patrol 4 who are led by Captain Kevin Ryan, were in the process of packing up after an IRB training session when they became aware of the situation. Without hesitation, Lachlan Sweeny grabbed a rescue tube and swam out while Kieran McKay untied a board from the trailer and entered the ocean.

Kevin Ryan and Lachlan Kimberley who launched the IRB with assistance from bystanders also entered the water. Luckily for the four distressed swimmers who were aged between 12-25 years, a group of surfers were keeping them afloat but they were unable to return them to shore due to the permanent rip near the rocks.

The surf lifesavers used their skill and determination to return the swimmers back to shore, provided them with oxygen treatment and waited with them until paramedics arrived. Fortunately the rescued swimmers would go on to make a full recovery.

“This award is something that we can and are proud of, it was a really big effort from our Patrol with numerous people involved not just surf lifesavers,” a modest Kevin Ryan said. “If the surfers hadn’t been there to initially assist the beachgoers, one of them would have drowned.”

This latest recognition continues a season to remember for Illawarra surf clubs with North Wollongong SLSC joining Helensburgh-Stanwell Park SLSC (November) and Windang SLSC (December) as winners of the National Rescue of the Month award.

Mark Doherty (Cooks Hill Director of Lifesaving) received national recognition for his efforts in February where after patrol hours he single handily rescued a father and his two young children after the group got into difficulty in a rip off Bar Beach.

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

Mark immediately 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.

Mark reached the young children and fortunately both were conscious but it was also clear struggling to keep their heads above the water. He quickly pulled both children onto the rescue board and paddled back to assist the father.

“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.”

Full citations can be read on our website.


Thursday 15 June 2017