Our Don't Drink and Drown ambassadors share their stories in hope that they will encourage young people to think twice before mixing alcohol and aquatic activity.

 All it takes is one accident to change your life forever...

Matt Naysmith

At 21, Matt Naysmith was working in the North West as a diesel mechanic. Having saved good money, he’d booked an around-the-world ticket to realise his dream to work and live abroad.image of Matt Naysmith in his motorised wheelchair

On a day off work, he planned to celebrate by having a party with 15 friends at the idyllic Karijini National Park. It turned into a day when a series of wrong decisions would change his life and those closest to him forever.

Mr Naysmith had been drinking alcohol that he said switched him into “hero-mode”. His judgment affected, he decided to climb up a waterfall among the beautiful gorges.

There was no peer pressure. “I was going to jump and nothing was going to stop me,” he said.

Mr Naysmith slipped on the wet rocks and fell head first into the gorge, breaking his neck.

It took 3½ hours for the SES and his friends to get him out of the gorge and to Tom Price Hospital before he was flown by the Royal Flying Doctor Service to Royal Perth Hospital.

Even when told his neck was broken, his spinal cord severed and that he would never walk again, it didn't sink in. He said he brushed such consequences aside and thought he would simply recover.

“I had no idea what an injury like this was. I wasn’t aware of the consequences of my actions half of the time,” he said.

But he said his fun-loving nature was lost after the accident.

“That fun-loving person died when I broke my neck — I wrecked it all in a second. I’ve been everything except happy since that day. I’ve lost the ability to become who I wanted to be.”

Moses Le Grice

Moses Le Grice is more motivated and driven than his years would suggest; he’s talented and sees surfing in a whole different light. He understands how quickly surfing big waves can become dangerous, and can’t imagine how the impact of alcohol would affect his ability to react to emergency situations; how something he loves can turn deadly in an instant.

Moses jumped on board with the Don’t Drink & Drown program towards the end of 2014 with such passion that it was hard not to get excited about working with such a motivated individual. Royal Life Saving Society WA is lucky to have such a young and promising ambassador. 

When we asked him what pushes him he said "I push myself because when I do well, I love it and I get a bigger high than I reckon I would from anything else.”

Unfortunately young Western Australians still don’t see it that way. In the past 5 years, the impact of alcohol in drownings amongst young people aged 15-24 has risen slightly to 40%. Young people still drink in spas late at night, they still drink on boats without safety barriers, they still go for ocean dips after a night out and they still drown suddenly, without a sound.

Moses understands the link and sees it all the time with young people his age: “Alcohol holds you back from reaching your full potential. There are 2 types of sports people, regular sports people, and sports people with a drive and they’re the ones who will achieve their goals.”

“You can’t surf when it’s dark which is like losing your sense of awareness… so how are you going to surf when you drink? That would be dangerous in any sport around water.”

After working with such a driven young man, you forget that he’s still a student. He’s currently studying at John Curtin part of the Gifted & Talent Program for musical theatre. So what’s next for Moses Le Grice?  “I'm just trying to get to Nationals this year. Finish school and all that stuff you’re meant to be doing when you’re growing up.”

His message to young people is simple –

“Come up with a goal. Get into sport. Realise that you don’t need alcohol to have fun. Get outside and live!”