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On 5th May 2017, Surf Life Saving WA honoured 35 individuals at the inaugural Coastal Bravery Awards ceremony, hosted by Monika Kos at City of Perth Surf Life Saving Club.

Hon. Mark McGowan MLA presented each of the recipients with their medallion and certificate

Gold Medallion for Exceptional Bravery
Gold Medallion

The Gold Medallion for Exceptional Bravery is the highest honour, awarded to any person who performs a conspicuous and selfless act of exceptional bravery in circumstances of extreme peril.

Jack Bray

On the 1st April 2017, while holidaying in the Great Southern, 31-year-old Mr Bray and his friend were taking photos at the isolated Boat Harbour, west of Denmark, when his friend was swept from the rocks by a large wave.


Despite fine weather, the sea conditions were treacherous that weekend, with reports of swell of up to seven metres off the coast. Rushing to raise the alarm, Mr Bray alerted emergency services before making the decision to jump into the water in an attempt to save her.


After a lengthy period of time in the water, Mr Bray was able to help his friend to safety before he was swept away in the treacherous conditions, paying the ultimate sacrifice to save his friend.

Pauline Prouse, Jack's mother, accepted his award on his behalf.

Jason Shepherd

On 18th February 2017, Jason Shepherd was at the remote Nanarup Beach, 25km east of Albany, when he noticed a family in distress nearby. Caught in a rip, the seven people had been dragged away from the shore and were struggling to make any headway.


Paddling over on his boogie board, Jason pulled two adults and a young girl onto his board, and coaxed two others to swim across the rip with him. He guided all five towards shore where, upon them regaining their footing, he surrendered his board to them before swimming returning twice more to bring the two remaining children to safety.

Ulrich Snell

On 20th September 2016, two teens had been swimming outside the flags at Scarborough Beach and were swept out by a rip before becoming exhausted as they tried to swim back to shore.


On the shore at the time, the boys friend, Ulrich, noticed them in trouble in trouble in the water. Swimming out, un-aided, he brought one friend back to shore before returning for the other who, by now, was face down and unconscious in the water.


Commencing the journey back to shore with his friend, upon hearing his calls a for help, a surfer came to their aid, assisting them through difficult conditions, back to the shore where Mr Snell began to administer CPR, saving his friend's life.

Ben Long, Matthew Lodge and Glen Keaughran

Ben, Matthew and Glen were three of the individuals dubbed “angels of the ocean” and “absolute heroes”, as they ignored their own safety in order to assist fellow surfer Mr Gerring, after he was attacked by a shark off Gearies Beach on 31st May 2016.

Mr Gerring was some 250m off-shore when he was attacked, with Ben and Glen being the first surfers to paddle out to help.


Matthew, on the shore when the attack happened, didn’t hesitate in grabbing a board and heading out in to the water to help the others. Once the surfers got to the shallows with the injured Mr Gerring, they were met by several people who helped to carry Mr Gerring to shore where first aid and treatment could commence.


Pictured: Ben Long, Matthew Lodge, Hon. Mark McGowan MLA

Joanne Lucas SC

Just after 7am on the 10th May 2008, Joanne, a member of the Albany Surf Live Saving Club, arrived at Middleton Beach in Albany to attend surf boat training. Arriving early, she was on the beach when she heard cries for help and was alerted to a swimmer thrashing around in the ocean.


Initially thinking it was a dolphin in the water, another beach goer screamed out that the swimmer had been attacked by a shark. Unable to find anyone to help her, and with little thought as to her own safety, the mother of three immediately swam out towards the man and, with the shark still circling, towed him 80 metres to shore, where they were assisted by other Surf Club members.


Joanne has been awarded a Pride of Australia Medal; the Star of Courage; and the Clarke Gold Medal for her bravery, and is also the Ambassador for the Coastal Bravery Awards.

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Silver Medallion - Lifesavers Award
Silver Medallion for Bravery

Lifesavers Award

The Silver Medallion for Bravery – Lifesavers Award, is awarded to any member of Surf Life Saving Western Australia who performs a conspicuous and selfless act of bravery on or off the West Australian coast, recognising the application of important lifesaving skills learnt through their participation in surf life saving.

Luke Laycock

On the 6th November 2016, Luke, a member of Sorrento Surf Life Saving Club, was on duty as an Inflatable Rescue Boat driver when, along with an on-duty jet ski, he responded to an incident where a diver was observed floating face down in the water.


Negotiating exposed reef with breaking surf, Luke manoeuvred the boat to enable his crew to assist the jet-ski driver and lifeless diver into the boat. As they commenced CPR, Luke endeavoured to negotiate passage back to the shore.

Paul Laycock, Luke's father, accepted the award on his behalf.

Wayne Weller

On 6th October 2015, whilst with friends at Bouvard Beach, Wayne Weller, a member of Secret Harbour Surf Life Saving Club and 68 years-of-age at the time, noticed a young man out past the breakers, who seemed to be in trouble.


With conditions described as nasty with dumping waves, numerous rips and gusty winds, Wayne entered the water just as the swimmer was seen to call for assistance.


Upon reaching the swimmer, Wayne was able to move him out of the rip before negotiating the time consuming return to the beach.

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Emergency Services Award

The Silver Medallion for Bravery – Emergency Services Award, is awarded to any member of a recognised Emergency Response Unit who, in the fulfilment of their duties, performs a conspicuous and selfless act of bravery on the West Australian coast.

Silver Medallion - Emergency Services Award

Constable Jeremy Forster and Constable Kurt McKain

On 3rd January 2016, Bunbury Police Officers Forster and McKain responded to a call for assistance in Koombana Bay in Bunbury, where an individual who had been consuming alcohol had gone for a swim, but had failed to return. Speaking to a witness who pointed out where he had last seen the swimmer, the officers were able to spot her in the dimming light.


Without hesitation the Officers entered the water and swam several hundred metres out, reaching her just as she appeared to be slipping under the water. The officers were able to tow the unconscious female back to the beach and commence CPR, which resulted in her breathing again.

Ben Sowter and Janek Ferrandi

On 10th January 2014, Ben and Janek were on duty as Lifeguards when they observed three surfers caught in a rip and dragged 700m offshore at Yallingup Beach. Known for its notorious surf, conditions on the day were described as extreme with the inshore break 10 foot and the outer break 15 foot.


Ben and Janek paddled out to the surfers on rescue boards, attempting the return to shore having placed the two weakest paddlers onto their boards. After 30 minutes of attempting to get the men back to the beach to no avail, Janek left Ben with the surfers and paddled back to shore by himself where he made a call for further assistance from emergency services. Unfortunately, further help was unavailable so Janek paddled back out to assist Ben with the three surfers.


After a further 45 minutes in the water, the lifeguards decided to attempt to paddle the surfers through the break across a shallow reef, putting themselves at risk. From here the stronger of the three surfers was able to catch a wave, leaving Ben and Janek to successfully return the remaining two surfers to the beach with some minor injuries.

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Citizens Award

The Silver Medallion for Bravery – Citizens Award, is awarded to any person who performs a conspicuous and selfless act of bravery on the West Australian coast.

Silver Medallion - Citizens Award

Matthew Bailey and Gary Quintrell

On 27th November 2016 at Redgate Beach in Margaret River, several tourists appeared to have been learning to surf. The difficult conditions saw them dumped a number of times and one of them, appearing quite fatigued, starting making his way back to the beach.


Matthew, who was in the water swimming at the time, came to his aid, swimming him into the shallow water, where once he could stand, the man continued walking to the beach. Heading back out for his swim, Matthew turned around to observe the man had been swept off his feet and was being carried out into the channel, struggling to swim.


Returning to his aid, by this time the man’s friend had reached them, and all three were being swept out in the rip. After 10 minutes of hard swimming Matthew was able to drag the man to shallow waters where they were met by onlookers with a body board who helped them to shore.


In the meantime, Gary, who had seen events unfolding from the shore, grabbed a boogie board and made his way out to the remaining swimmer. Working to calm the panicked individual, Gary managed to convince him to swim further away from the shore to escape the rip and return them safely to shore

James Waterbury

On 20th October 2016 while kitesurfing at Point Moore Beach in Geraldton, James noticed another kite spinning out-of-control, resulting in its rider being dragged down and under the water.


Leaving his own equipment, James made his way to the rider, holding him above the water where, with the assistance of two other kite surfers, they were able to cut the unconscious man free from his kite.


Unable to lend any further assistance, the other two kite surfers returned to shore to alert emergency services.


Despite the two metre swell and 20 knot winds, James stayed with the man, now believed to be deceased, keeping him afloat in the water while waiting for emergency services.


They were collected by Geraldton Marine Rescue, nearly 1km off shore and 2km away from their initial launch point.

Dan Watson

On 20th September 2016, two teens, while swimming outside the flags at Scarborough Beach, had been swept out by a rip. The pair had tried desperately to swim back to shore but had become exhausted.


Ulrich Snell, one of our recipients of the Gold Medallion for Exceptional Bravery, and a friend of the teens, had already completed the rescue of one of his friends, and had headed back out for the second of the pair, by which time the teen was face down in the water unconscious.


Battling difficult conditions, Ulrich managed to bring his friend halfway to shore before Dan, who was surfing nearby, heard his calls for help and immediately came to lend assistance, bringing the two boys back to shore where CPR was able to be commenced.

Brayden Mitchell

On 17th July 2016, 18-year-old Brayden had driven to the Queen Elizabeth Avenue floodway in Busselton with his girlfriend to check out the state of the flooding after some heavy rains, when he noticed a woman in trouble.


The woman, while trying to rescue her dog, had been swept some 50 metres out to sea and Brayden, a local surfer, jumped into action. Entering the cold, stormy waters Brayden swam out to the woman where, with waves crashing over the pair, he was able to pull her back towards the shore. 


With limited energy left due to the freezing waters and the strong conditions, Brayden and the woman were helped to safety at the shore by Brayden’s girlfriend.


Both Brayden and the woman he rescued were taken to hospital and treated for hypothermia.

Storm Lewington, Brian Williams, Zak Alexander, Nick Jenkins, John Wyllie, Wayne Dawe, Ben Hamilton, April McPherson, Sheldon Spencer and Geoffrey Carruthers

On 31st May 2016, Ben Gerring was attacked by a shark off the coast of Gearies Beach, south of Mandurah, while out surfing.


Fellow surfers paddled out to Mr Gerring and brought him into shore where our recipients banded together to do everything they could to give Mr Gerring a fighting chance after the attack, including applying a tourniquet, assisting with first aid, starting CPR and reassuring Ben until paramedics arrived.

Not Pictured: Sheldon Spencer and Geoffrey Carruthers

Scott Bartleet

On 15th May 2016, Scott was body surfing at City Beach when he noticed that a fellow bodysurfer, Greg Connaughton had not resurfaced after catching a wave. Swimming over to where he had last observed Greg, Scott found the other man’s lifeless body floating face down.


Despite the big swell crashing around and over the duo, Scott supported Greg’s neck and kept his head above water until he could get the unconscious man safely to shore. On return to the beach and establishing that Greg was unconscious, Scott began administering CPR before being assisted by a Lifeguard and paramedics.


An on-duty Lifeguard commented that it was one of the biggest days he had seen at City Beach, while other witnesses stated that Scott had responded instantly and showed great grit and will.

John Daunt

On 29th August 2015 at Dolphin Cove in Esperance, John Daunt pulled up in his car to check out the swell before heading for a surf. He observed a couple who had ventured out onto the rocks to take photos, and as John watched, a large wave washed them off their feet, with the woman being swept off the rocks into the cold waters.


Jumping out of his car in boardies and a t-shirt, he grabbed his surfboard and ran down to the rocks. By the time John paddled through the break and reached the woman, she was half a metre underwater, unconscious and blue. Pulling her away from the rocks John was able to administer quick mouth-to-mouth, enough to revive the woman.


Forced to let go of the woman who, in her panic was dragging him under, John was able to remove his t-shirt before once again getting hold of the woman and, with one arm around her and the other around the board, was able to paddle the pair back to shore safety.

Rob Hewlett

On 29th May 2015, local Esperance veterinarian Rob was surfing at Chapman Point when he noticed a man slip from the rocks and fall into the rough sea below. While the man’s friend tried to throw him a lifesaving angel ring, Rob braved the six metre swell, dangerous rocks and barnacles in a bid to reach the man, who lay injured on the rocks.


With large sets of waves rolling in, Rob was forced to dive under the water and swim away from the rocks on numerous occasions, eventually losing sight of the man. Rob continued searching for the man until emergency services held arrived.

Courtney Draper accepted the award on Rob's behalf. 

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The Bronze Medallion for Courage – Youth Award is awarded to any person under the age of 16 who performs a lifesaving act demonstrating courage on the West Australian coast or, in the case of a member of Surf Life Saving WA, where they may have used the skills learned through their participation in surf life saving, to perform an act demonstrating courage away from the coast.

Bronze Medallion - Youth Award

Stanley McFarlane

On 27th February 2017, Stanley and his father were leaving Christ Church Grammar when Stanley noticed an elderly lady collapsed on the street. Assessing the situation and identifying that she was unconscious and non-responsive, Stanley instructed his father to call triple zero while he commenced CPR.

After around 20 compressions the lady took a gasp of air. Stanley was instructed to give another set of compressions after which point the lady regained consciousness.


15 years of age at the time, Stanley is a member of the Christ Church Grammar Surf Life Saving Cadets and credits this with giving him the knowledge and confidence to perform CPR.

Daisy Kirchner and Sadie Wheeler

On 31st January 2017 at West Beach in Esperance, Daisy and Sadie, both 14 years of age at the time, observed two tourists caught in a rip.


While one of the girls kept her eyes on the people in the water, the other ran to a nearby house requesting someone call triple zero. Before returning to the beach, she grabbed two boogie boards. On the beach the two girls directed the tourists out of the rip before entering the water on the boogie boards and towing them in.


First Class Constable Sarah Norman, one of the emergency service personnel to attend to the incident, said that without the actions of the girls on the otherwise deserted beach, there would likely have been a very different outcome.

Elena Damianopoulos

On the afternoon of 8th October 2014 at Moore River, Guilderton, Elena rescued a young boy who had been swept out to sea by a rip.


Elena was 14 years of age at the time and had obtained her Surf Rescue Certificate as a member of the Floreat Surf Life Saving Club.


Witnessing the boy playing in the river before he got caught in a rip which dragged him some 75 metres offshore, Elena called for help and entered the water to assist the boy.


On reaching him she swam him a further 30 metres out to sea to avoid the swell before continuing to swim him north out of the rip, negotiating the swell to return the boy to the beach, supporting him at all times.

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