Bravery awards for boat rescue
THREE local men who played major roles in the rescue of 12 people off a capsized boat at the Point Danger bar on the Tweed River back in 2004, have been recognised for their bravery in the Australian Bravery Awards which were announced today by the Governor-General Quentin Bryce.
Peter Baird of Pottsville, Murwillumbah's Dougal Forsyth and Byron Douglas from Kirra were all members of the Fingal Rovers Surf Life Saving Club when their courageous feats in the dangerous waters ensured all members of the boat party were safely delivered to shore.
The trio share a Group Bravery Citation and Mr Douglas, who was first on the scene paddling a rescue board, was also awarded an individual honour - Commendation for Brave Conduct.
It was on January 3, 2004 that a charter dive vessel attempted to negotiate the bar at Point Danger.
In treacherous conditions and driving rain, the motor cut-out and a wave swamped the vessel, throwing those on board into the raging surf.
Mr Douglas, who was on patrol at Duranbah Beach, grabbed a rescue board and paddled out to reach the vessel as he radioed for help.
Despite a three metres swell and crashing surf, Mr Douglas was able to reach to scene and got several victims to hang onto his board and others to hang onto a rope.
Soon after Mr Baird and Mr Forsyth arrived at the scene aboard an inflatable boat from Fingal Beach and they managed rescue others in the water.
Two other lifeguards were unable to reach the scene due to the debris from the swamped boat but they managed to provide rescue tubes to those still in the water.
All 12 people escaped the incident uninjured.
Typically, all three lifeguards scoffed at any suggestion they were heroes.
"We were just doing our jobs," said Mr Forsyth.
Mr Douglas said was "nice to get the award because it gives recognition to the surf life saving movement".
In the 2012 awards there was one recipient of the Star of Courage, 19 people were awarded the Bravery Medal, 41 the
Commendation for Brave Conduct award and seven groups received Group Bravery Citations.
Since 1975 when the Australian Bravery awards were introduced, there have been five recipients of the Cross of Valour, 142 awards of the Star of Courage, 1062 awards of the Bravery Medal, 1653 Commendations for Brave Conduct and 84 presentations of the Group Bravery Citation.