Volunteer surf life savers recognised for their courageous Garie Beach rescue

Paul Cootes and Jessika Hay have been presented with Community Service awards by State MP for Heathcote (centre), Lee Evans for rescuing four people from Garie Beach on Australia Day

TWO Garie Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) volunteers have been presented with a NSW Government Community Service award for the courageous rescue of four girls on Australia Day 2022.

An hour after a long day patrolling the Royal National Park beach, Paul Cootes and Jessika Hay were sitting on the balcony of Garie Surf Club when they noticed a group of people swimming near a dangerous rip.

The girls soon found themselves in trouble, and family on shore began waving their arms, indicating that the group were caught in the rip.

The four swimmers were eventually rescued by Jessika and Paul with help from Charlie Florey, an off-duty lifeguard at Wattamolla, who was surfing nearby.

Garie Surf Life Saving Club president Brad Taylor said that it was lucky Jess and Paul were still at the club after their shift had concluded for the day.

“Volunteer surf life savers across NSW risk their lives to keep the community safe and I commend each and every one of them,” he said.

“This was a particularly difficult rescue due to the remoteness of Garie Beach and the communication constraints to contact other services. It’s great that Jess and Paul have been acknowledged for their efforts.”

State MP for Heathcote Lee Evans said the pair are deserving recipients of Community Service Awards.

“Australia Day 2022 had every potential to be a horrific day,” he said.

“I commend Paul and Jess on their remarkable work to rescue the four girls under very difficult circumstances. Their courage and commitment to the community’s safety was paramount and I am sure the families are extremely grateful that thanks to Paul and Jess their girls are okay.” Mr Evans said.

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About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of Australian pubs and associated industries for over 30 years. He is working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick managed several community newspapers. He has been editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), the Sydney city newspaper, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.


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