2016 Royal Life Saving Bravery Awards

12 October 2016

Outstanding acts of bravery have been recognised today in the 2016 Royal Life Saving Bravery Awards.Rhys Abernethy, Richard Cowling and Trevor Abernethy

20 heroic individuals have been honoured during a ceremony hosted at the Government House Ballroom, attended by WA Governor Her Excellency The Honourable Kerry Sanderson AC.

The Royal Life Saving Society of Western Australian accepts nominations for the Bravery Awards throughout the year, to identify and reward people in our community who have taken extraordinary actions to save another person’s life. 

This year we have acknowledged a wide variety of individuals who have performed acts from in water rescues, through to performing lifesaving surgery on the side of the road after a car crash. We have some very deserving awardees who’ve each been involved in outstanding acts of bravery.

Charley Willison and Tammy CuffSome of the highlights included Trevor and Rhys Abernethy, who were awarded for rescuing their friend Richard Cowlin from an undertow at Wharton Bay Beach in Esperance. The families were on holiday late last year when the incident happened. Richard had gone out behind the children playing at the beach to ensure none of the youngsters went out too far, however he got caught in an undertow himself and was being pulled out the sea. Trevor and his son Rhys, who was just 15 at the time, made their way out to Richard and spent 20 minutes fighting difficult conditions to bring him back to shore. Rhys has been a member of the Junior Lifeguard Club at Cannington Leisureplex for a number of years, and used some of the skills he had learnt to ensure a successful rescue in difficult circumstances. The pair received a Gold Cross Bravery Award in recognition of their life saving efforts.

Tammy Cuff was also recognised after saving the life of seven year old Charley Willison, who fell head first from a rope swing at a farm stay in Moore River in September last year. The Cuff and Willison families were at the start of a weekend away when the incident happened, and Tammy - herself recovering from a broken coccyx at the time - didn't hesitate to make her way down a rocky embankment to pull Charley from the water where he was submerged under a tree branch. Tammy then drove Charley towards Perth to meet up with emergency services who transferred him to hospital. Charley had a large lump on the back of his head and spent a couple of days in hospital with severe concussion, but has now made a full recovery due to Tammy's selfless act of bravery. She received a very well deserved Gold Medallion Bravery Award.

And Dr Edward Yeboah was recognised after saving the life of Simon Treloar following a serious head on collision on Indian Ocean Drive. Simon had been travelling around a blind left hand bend when a motorist crossed to the wrong side of the road and collided head on with his car. He was very fortunate that Dr Yeboah happened to be passing by shortly after the crash and stopped to render assistance. Simon was in a serious condition and may not have survived had it not been for the first aid, including an emergency thoracotomy, performed by Dr Yeboah roadside. Dr Yeboah also coordinated the attendance of emergency services to the scene, ensuring Simon was able to be airlifted back to Perth. Dr Edward Yeboah’s willingness to render assistance, quick thinking and prompt action, performed under extreme pressure at the crash site, saved Simon's life and make him a deserving recipient of the Gold Cross Bravery Award.Simon Treloar, Dr Yeboah's family and Dr Edward Yeboah

Royal Life Saving Society WA’s Chief Executive Officer Peter Leaversuch says each and every award recipient displayed exceptional courage, empathy and initiative by applying lifesaving skills in emergency situations and sometimes at risk to themselves.

“The bravery and commitment of these individuals in saving lives is an excellent example to all Western Australians and deserves our highest recognition. It sends the strongest message possible about the importance of obtaining lifesaving skills.  

“As we approach another summer I encourage everyone to think about how they might, in their own way, make a contribution to drowning prevention, and saving lives. It may be to improve your own skills in CPR, first aid or rescue, to raise awareness amongst your family, friends or workplace, or to help someone in need. Everyone can be a lifesaver” Mr Leaversuch said.