2002-2003 Recipients & Citations

Click on the recipient to view the citation.



Retained Firefighter Brendan David Daly, NSW Fire Brigades,

for his actions in the rescue of a fellow firefighter at a house fire at Whitebridge, near Newcastle.

In the early hours of the morning of 29 March 2000 a fire broke out in a house at Whitebridge.

The house was well alight when the Fire Brigade arrived. Retained Firefighter Daly and another firefighter entered the house and searched the rear rooms of the dwelling. Daly fell through the weakened floor, up to his thigh, and was assisted by his colleague.

His colleague then fell through the floor and made contact with electrical wires. Daly tried unsuccessfully to drag the man clear, but after receiving some electrical shocks himself, he then kicked the man clear of the obstruction, and broke the electrical connection.

After warning other firefighters of the danger, Daly jumped into the hole to assist his colleague, and helped him up to floor level where other firefighters carried him to a waiting ambulance.


Lawrence John Emerson, 31 Kalang Avenue, Ulladulla,

for the rescue of two persons from a house fire at Ulladulla.

At about 12.50am on 15 June 2000 Mr Emerson was woken by the barking of his dog, and he could hear the noise of a fire alarm. On investigation he noticed an orange glow coming from his neighbour’s rear bedroom. He quickly dressed and told his wife to call the Fire Brigade.
Taking his torch, he ran to the neighbour’s property, and after trying unsuccessfully to alert his neighbours, he smashed a kitchen window and entered the burning premise.

Emerson searched the house for occupants and came across an elderly lady crouched against a bedroom wall. He guided the dazed woman out through the front door, and left her in the front yard while he returned to the house to search for her husband. The elderly man was found at the end of the hallway, and Emerson took him out to the front yard also.

While then searching for a hose, Emerson noticed that the woman was missing, and on investigation, he found she had re-entered the smoke-filled house. On entering the house again to bring the lady once more to safety, he became aware that the elderly couple’s son was asleep in a back bedroom.

Emerson tried to reach the bedroom but by this stage the fire was raging and the hallway was completely engulfed in flames. He had trouble breathing and could not see because of the dense smoke. When the roof began to collapse he made a quick exit and took the elderly couple onto the roadway away from the danger.

The Fire Brigade arrived shortly after and extinguished the fire. The house was almost totally destroyed by the fire resulting in the tragic death of the couple’s son.
Emerson was treated for lacerations to his arm and smoke inhalation.


Jemima Robertson, 33 Alley Street, Speers Point,

for her actions and assistance given to several young children on a dangerous horse and buggy ride at Croudace Bay.

On 29 September 2000, Jemima Robertson and her young brother attended a Picnic Day at Croudace Bay Park.

She and her brother, together with a number of other children, had taken a horse and buggy ride, when suddenly, the horse began to act quite erratically.

The horse and buggy crashed through some log barriers and started running between the trees in the park, and threatening to throw the passengers out of the buggy.
The children were too young to jump from the buggy, so Robertson remained in the buggy, holding on to her brother and other children.

The horse and buggy eventually crashed into a tree, capsizing the buggy and trapping the children. Onlookers righted the buggy and rescued the children.
Robertson and the other children were treated for their injuries at Belmont Hospital.


Graham Walker, 3 Ronald Avenue, Narraweena,

for the rescue of a man and woman from a house fire at Narraweena.

On the evening of 5 August 2001, Mr Walker went to investigate a scream coming from a neighbouring house, when he heard a fire alarm and discovered a house on fire.

He could hear a woman screaming inside, so he entered the house but was confronted with dense smoke and poor visibility. He exited to find a garden hose, but was unsuccessful, so he entered the house again in search of the occupants.

He located two persons in wheelchairs, which seemed to be malfunctioning. He dragged the man and his wheelchair outside, and then returned and rescued the woman in the same manner. He moved both occupants to a safe area.

The Fire Brigade arrived, and Walker was later treated in hospital for minor burns and smoke inhalation.


Colin Goldthorpe, 32 Muscio Street, Colyton,

for the rescue of an 18 month old child from a burning vehicle at Colyton.

During the morning of 11 September 2001, Mr Goldthorpe was out driving his car when he came upon a burning vehicle. On investigation, he found a woman attempting to release a baby from the back seat.

While other bystanders assisted the mother, who had burns to her face and arms, Goldthorpe climbed into the burning car and was eventually able to release the baby, who by then had suffered severe burns to her face, hands and legs. Within seconds of releasing the baby, the vehicle became engulfed in flames.

Although burnt himself, and suffering smoke inhalation, Goldthorpe carried the injured baby to a nearby house for treatment.


Ian Martin Redman, 5 David Smith Place, Kiama,

for the rescue of a woman from an overturned and burning vehicle at Pheasants Nest.

On 1 November 2001 Mr Redman was travelling north in his truck on the F5 Freeway near Pheasants Nest. He was overtaken by a vehicle being driven at an estimated speed of 160 km/hr.

The vehicle subsequently collided with the road barrier, rolled down an embankment, overturned and caught fire, trapping the driver.

Redman climbed down to the vehicle, dragged the driver clear, and then assisted the driver back up to the roadway for treatment by ambulance personnel.


Nicholas Peter Walsh, 5 Naylor Close, Queanbeyan,

Matthew Luke Kelly, 23 Hayes Street, Queanbeyan,

for the rescue of a child from the Queanbeyan River.

In the early evening of 29 December 2001, Nicholas Walsh and Matthew Kelly were boating on the Queanbeyan River when they were asked by a man if he could take his young son for a ride in their boat.

While out on the river, the boat capsized throwing the man and young boy into the water. Without buoyancy vests, the man and child were struggling in the water, and Walsh and Kelly went to their assistance.

The man had disappeared under the water, and Walsh reached the boy, who had also gone under, and began to swim back to shore. Kelly assisted Walsh in this rescue, as the child was a “dead” weight, and very difficult to keep above water.

On reaching shore, the boys raised the alarm and waited for the arrival of emergency services personnel. The man’s body was later recovered by police.


Firefighter Tom Hetherington, 45 Theseus Circuit, Rosemeadow,

for his actions during a house fire at Ambarvale.

At about 5.50pm on 13 August 2000 Tom Hetherington was driving along Dickens Road, Ambarvale when he noticed smoke coming from a house in a nearby street. Hetherington made his way to the burning house and asked a neighbour if the house was occupied.

On being told someone maybe in the house, he kicked open the front door, and although the heat was quite intense, he started searching the house on his hands and knees.

On finding no occupants, he exited, and obtained a hose to start fighting the fire until the arrival of the Fire Brigade.


Senior Constable Trevor Ernest Walter, Coffs Harbour Police,


Senior Constable Megan Mannall, Coffs Harbour Police,

for their actions at the scene of a house fire at Coffs Harbour.

In the early morning hours of 7 August 2001, fire broke out in a house in Coffs Harbour, and sounds of screaming and banging awoke the nearby residents.

One of the residents, Mr Carroll, unsuccessfully attempted to rouse the residents of the burning house. He attempted to smash a bedroom window, and was joined at the scene by two other residents, Darryl Hamilton and Matthew Hamilton. Hearing someone moaning, they noticed through the bedroom window a woman lying unconscious on the floor. They attempted to pull her towards the window, but the intense heat and smoke prevented this.

Senior Constables Walter and Mannall arrived on the scene, and Walter smashed more of the bedroom window in the hope of entering the room. The heat and smoke made this impossible, but with Mannall’s assistance, Walter was able to drag the woman out of the building to safety. Senior Constable Walter received burns and cuts while leaning into the burning room to grab the woman.

Ambulance personnel transported the severely burned woman to Coffs Harbour Hospital, and she was later transferred to Concord Hospital in Sydney. Regrettably, a male occupant of the house perished in the fire.

Darryl Hamilton, Matthew Hamilton and Allan Carroll received Letters of Commendation for their actions in this incident.


Kira Jean Phelps, 9 Apsley Street, Casino,

for her actions and assistance given to her mother after a violent attack by an intruder at her home.

At about 4.30am on 14 November 2001 Mrs Diane Phelps was woken by an intruder standing over her in the bedroom of her home in Casino. The intruder began to punch and stab Mrs Phelps.

Kira Phelps was wakened by her mother’s screams, and went to investigate. On opening her mother’s bedroom door she was confronted by the intruder. She ran down the hallway, and immediately rang 000. The intruder escaped out the front door, and Kira went to her mother’s assistance.

Although her mother was bleeding profusely from her wounds, Kira stemmed the loss of blood and reassured her mother while waiting for the arrival of ambulance personnel.


Mark Giles, 13 Cherry Road, Warners Bay,

for the rescue of a man from a vat of molten metal at Pasminco Sulphide Works, Boolaroo.

At about 7.50am on 29 November 2001 a worker at the smelting department of the Pasminco Cockle Creek Smelter, Boolaroo, near Newcastle, was cleaning the pump sump area and accidentally slipped into a large bath of molten lead. The lead is kept in its molten state at a temperature of approximately 600 degrees Celsius. He was unable to get himself out and the legs of his overalls were on fire.

Mark Giles, who was working nearby, heard the man’s screams and immediately ran to his location. He climbed a ladder, leaned over the vat so he was able to grab his co-worker’s overalls, and lifted the man up across another bath of molten metal to the safety of a platform.

With the help of two other employees, Giles carried the badly burned man to the emergency shower and administered first aid. Giles holds a Senior First Aid Certificate, and paramedics later praised him for his quick thinking and action, which most probably saved the injured worker’s legs and perhaps his life.


Colin Harold Turnbull, 79 Cawdell Drive, Albion Park,

for his actions in disarming an explosive device on his neighbour’s property in Albion Park.

At about 5am on 13 December 2000 Mr Turnbull left his home for work. On approaching his parked vehicle, he noticed a flickering light coming from his neighbour’s porch, and went to investigate.

As he approached, he saw a milk crate containing about 20 litres of fuel, aerosol cans bound with cigarette lighters, tape and soda bulbs, fireworks and other items on the front porch directly under a bedroom window. He knew this room was occupied by his neighbour’s thirteen year old son. Turnbull also saw a bundle of sparklers that were alight near the top of the device that led into a bottle of fuel, acting as a wick. He smelt a strong smell of fuel including kerosene and citronella.
Realising this device was about to explode, Turnbull grabbed the sparklers and pulled them from the crate. They were attached to a bottle and rag that was on fire. He threw the sparklers and bottle onto the lawn, burning his hand in the process. After throwing this device, it exploded very near him causing a large fireball to rise into the air. Turnbull then began to stomp on the fire until it was extinguished, before waking his neighbour and her son.

The Police were called, and the Scientific Police Squad, carefully examined all aspects of the scene. The Police considered that Mr Turnbull averted what could have been an extremely serious incident.


Senior Constable Graeme Koppman, Newcastle Highway Patrol,

for his actions at the scene of a house fire at Karuah.

At about 12.15am on 5 January 2002 Senior Constables Koppman and Crowley were patrolling the Pacific Highway, Karuah when they observed a large fire near Memorial Drive, Karuah. Upon investigation, they found a cottage on fire with smoke and flames coming from the front of the house. Neighbours informed the police officers that a male occupant was at home and slept in the front bedroom.

Both officers approached the front door with a garden hose. The heat from the fire was extremely intense, and Koppman decided to attempt entry from the rear of the premises. Crowley continued to approach the front door, but was forced back when the fibro began to explode. He then attempted to go round to the back of the house to assist Koppman, but was forced back by flames now coming from the left side of the premises.

Koppman, finding the rear door locked, kicked it causing the door jam to fracture. Placing a shirt across his nose and mouth, he entered the premises but was forced to exit after only managing to go in about 5 to 8 metres.

The Rural Bush Fire Brigade arrived and after the fire was brought under control the body of an elderly man was located in the front bedroom where the fire had originated.

Senior Constable Crowley received a Letter of Commendation for his actions during this incident.


Jason Allan Williams, 13/16 Patrick Lane, Toowong, Queensland,

Hayley Rosbrook, 82 Chelford Street, Alderley, Queensland,

for the rescue of a man from the surf at Park Beach, Coffs Harbour.

On the afternoon of 8 January 2002 at Park Beach Coffs Harbour, four swimmers got into difficulties in chest deep water.

One of the swimmers, with assistance from a board rider, was able to assist two of his colleagues to shore, but the fourth swimmer became separated from his colleagues in the strong current.

Mr Williams and Ms Rosbrook were sitting on the beach when they noticed a man struggling in the water about 100 metres from shore. Williams entered the water, swam to him and held him above water while they drifted with the current. Rosbrook became concerned when the rescue seemed to be taking a long time, so she also entered the water and swam out.

Williams and Rosbrook displayed good knowledge of surf survival techniques, allowing the current to carry them and gradually swimming toward the shore at an angle to conserve energy. They were able to keep the struggling swimmer afloat for this period.

Williams and Rosbrook reached the shore with the swimmer, where another person applied first aid procedures to the barely conscious man until the arrival of emergency services personnel.

18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24.  BRONZE MEDALS

Malcolm John Noonan, 12 Yoolundry St, Gulargambone,

Jim Ewers, 22 Noreen St, Gilgandra,

Allen William Steele, 43 Wrigley St, Gilgandra,

Jaimie Robert Zell, “Widgerie” Dooroombah Rd, Gilgandra,

Russell David French, 35 Sexton Road, Inglewood,

Ambulance Officer Anthony Philip Studholme, Ambulance Service of New South Wales,

Ambulance Officer Andrew John Cameron, Ambulance Service of New South Wales,

for the rescue of a man who was trapped in a wheat silo at Gilgandra.

About 7am on the morning of 3 May 2000, Alan Steele, Andrew Steele, Jim Ewers and Malcolm Noonan were loading bulk wheat from silos into a train at the Gilgandra Wheat Silo. Some hours into the operation, it was noticed that the wheat was not “flowing freely”, and on investigation of the gravity chute, it was found to have wet wheat in it, thus impeding the flow of the wheat.

Alan and Andrew Steele, Ewers and Noonan attempted to remove the wet wheat but this was unsuccessful. The men then commenced “prodding” the wet crust of wheat in order to break it up, and commence the free flow again. While standing on the pile of wheat and prodding the wet crust, Andrew Steele felt the pile collapse from under him, and he became buried up to his knees in the bulk wheat.

Sensing his predicament and realising he was slowly being engulfed by the wheat, he called to Noonan for help. Noonan immediately went and switched off the control valve to prevent any further suction of the wheat from under Andrew Steele, and at the same time, called for help to Ewers and Allen Steele.

For the next several hours, the three men held on to Andrew Steele to prevent him submerging in the wheat, at the same time scooping the wheat away from his face to allow him to breath. Several attempts to pull him clear of the wheat failed.

Zell and French, from the head office, then arrived to assist, after they had alerted emergency services.

Eventually, a piece of vacuum cleaner hose was used to assist Andrew Steele to breath, while continuing efforts were carried out to keep the wheat from crushing the trapped man.

Around 11am, Ambulance Officers Studholme and Cameron arrived at the scene, and immediately administered oxygen treatment to Andrew Steele.
A number of measures, such as cutting holes in the storage shed wall with an axe to allow the wheat to spill out, and building box structures around the trapped man to prevent further crushing by the wheat, were attempted, but all were unsuccessful.

Eventually, a harness was attached to Andrew Steele, and with the aid of a block and tackle, he was pulled to safety, some five hours after becoming trapped.
Throughout the ordeal, the life of Andrew Steele was continually under threat from the crushing effect of the wheat and the deprivation of oxygen. The lives of the rescuers were in danger, due to the fragility of the wheat pile which they were operating in, and the distinct possibility of an explosion due to the wheat dust..


Ambulance Officer David Patrick Wells, 16 Gray Street, Swansea,

for the rescue of a woman from the sea at Newcastle.

At about 9.45pm on 14 January 2001 three females were caught in a rip off Newcastle beach. A short time later emergency services arrived.

Ambulance Officer Wells, along with three colleagues, entered the water. Two of the swimmers were located and safely returned to shore. Wells swam a further 300-400 metres beyond the waves in an attempt to locate the third female. During the incident the seas were about 3 metres, and a very severe rip was present.

Wells finally located the struggling swimmer, who by this time was vomiting and beginning to go under. He took hold of her and supported her until the rescue helicopter arrived about 20 minutes later.

During this time a male paddled out on a board and offered to take the swimmer ashore. Wells declined as the patient was too ill. The board assisted the woman until she was winched to safety.

Wells was also winched from the sea about 10 minutes after the rescue.

26. 27. 28. 29. BRONZE MEDAL

Senior Constable John Zimmerman, Northern Beaches Command,

Probationary Constable Belinda Hogan, Northern Beaches Command,

Peter Smythe, Warriewood Surf Rescue Club,

Gopal Thorburn, 12 Carpenter Crescent, Warriewood,

for their actions in the rescue of four men from the sea off Warriewood.

In the early evening of 20 January 2002, a swimmer was badly injured after being washed against rocks at the Warriewood Blowhole. Three other swimmers went to the injured man’s assistance, but all four were washed some distance out to sea.

Mr Thorburn, who had been surfing in the area, was alerted to the incident, and immediately entered the water on his surfboard to assist the struggling swimmers. He reached the swimmers, and placed the badly injured man on his surfboard. At this stage, due to the lack of a pulse and the general condition of the injured man, Thorburn assessed that the man was dead.

Mr Thorburn and the other swimmers then paddled towards a safer area near the rocks. They had the deceased person on the surfboard, and decided to wait for emergency help to arrive, rather than attempt a return to shore.

Emergency Services were called, and the Westpac LifeSaver 1 Helicopter arrived. A Broken Bay Water Police vessel had to turn back due to the extreme weather conditions. Eventually, the helicopter was able to winch the deceased man aboard, and transport him to hospital.

On return to assist in rescuing the remaining swimmers, the helicopter experienced severe difficulties in remaining static enough to winch them aboard.

Senior Constable Zimmerman and Probationary Constable Hogan, who had observed the deteriorating situation, obtained an IRB from the Surf Club, and together with Peter Smythe, launched it and proceeded out towards the distressed swimmers.

After negotiating the treacherous seas, they arrived at the area of the swimmers, and while Smythe circled them in the craft, Zimmerman and Hogan were able to scoop the swimmers from the water.

The swimmers were subsequently returned to shore and then transported to hospital for treatment.


Peter Hawkes Whitcombe, 1/192 Darlington Drive, Banora Point,

for his actions in the rescue of a man from the sea at Fingal Headland.

At about 6.30pm on 19 January 2002, a number of men were diving near Fingal Headland. They returned to the beach, but one man was missing.

Mr Whitcombe had observed the divers earlier, and was sitting on the headland when he heard a faint cry for help. He looked over and saw a male struggling in a strong rip about fifty metres from the rocks. Each time a wave hit the swimmer he would become submerged.

Whitcombe, who has a good local knowledge of the Fingal Headland, ran down to the rocks. He waited for a wave to hit the rocks, and then jumped in, allowing the backwash to sweep him out to the distressed swimmer. By now the victim’s body was submerged. Whitcombe pulled the man’s head to the surface and noticed the face mask was full of vomit. He removed the mask but the man appeared unconscious, he was white and his lips were blue. Whitcombe tried desperately to keep the man’s head above water. With one arm he side stroked with the rip. This was extremely difficult, as the waves continued to pound the two men and threatened to wash them against the rocks.

A large crowd gathered on the headland, and after some time, two men on a body board joined Whitcombe. Almost at the same time Fingal Surf Club members arrived in an IRB and took the victim on board. Once on the beach the victim was treated by an off duty doctor and lifesavers. When the ambulance arrived, adrenalin was administered and a pulse was detected. The victim was transported to hospital, but died later.


Ray Haase, 19 Balaclava Street, Mittagong,

Ian Tanner, 18 Cleveland Street, Lawson,

for their actions during the rescue of a man and child from a capsized canoe in rough surf at Lake Tabourie.

At about 5.15pm on 1 March 2002, while walking on the beach near Lake Tabourie caravan park, Mr Haase observed a canoe, carrying a man and a young child, capsize at the junction of the lake and the open sea.

Haase immediately entered the surf and swam through a rip to reach them. Another man, Mr Tanner,also entered the water. Haase took hold of the child and swam back to the beach through the surf and handed the unconscious child to his mother. He then re-entered the surf and swam out to the man who by now was also unconscious.

Tanner was supporting him, but was having trouble getting him to shore. Haase took hold of the man also, and together he and Tanner swam with him back to the beach. Once they could touch bottom they carried him onto the beach, where another man, Ian Webster, and others administered first aid.

The man soon began breathing on his own, however the young child’s condition deteriorated, and Webster carried him toward the car park as the ambulance arrived. The boy was given oxygen and both he and his father were transported to hospital. They later made a full recovery.

Ian Webster received a Letter of Commendation for his actions in this incident.


Shannon Bracken, 42 Turpentine Ave, Sandy Beach,

Philip Mitchell, 51 Graham Drive, Sandy Beach,

for the rescue of an eight year old boy from the surf at Sandy Beach.

On the afternoon of 16 April 2002, a young boy was swept out to sea at Sandy Beach, and was quickly in difficulties in the rough surf conditions. Shannon Bracken and Philip Mitchell, who had been spear fishing nearby, soon became aware of the situation.

Without hesitating they both swam out to the boy, battling through the rough conditions. The boy was about 10 metres from the rocks, and when Bracken and Mitchell reached him they placed the boy between them keeping his head above water. They then attempted to swim back to shore with the child, but because the current was so strong they were unable to make any progress.

Bracken and Mitchell decided to swim towards the rocks and try to exit the water that way. It took several attempts due to the swell, however they managed to push the child onto the rocks where a man pulled him to safety. Bracken and Mitchell then managed to pull themselves onto the rocks, receiving bruising and lacerations in the process.

Police and Ambulance arrived soon after, and the child conveyed to Coffs Harbour Hospital for treatment.


Edward Shanaphy, 9 Lindfield Garden, Hamstead, London, England,

for the rescue of a man from the sea off Manly Point.

At about 12.00pm on 19 May 2002 Mr Shanaphy, who was holidaying in Australia, noticed a male floating in the ocean off Manly Point, Manly. The weather conditions at the time were extremely hazardous, with gale force winds whipping the surrounding water.

Fully clothed, Shanaphy entered the water and swam about 40-50 metres to reach the man. Before entering the water Shanaphy had telephoned emergency services to alert them of the situation, so by the time he had returned to shore with the victim the ambulance had arrived.

The victim’s condition was critical due to his low body temperature, and he was conveyed to Manly District Hospital.


Jeffrey Ronald Curtin, 2/24 Nesca Pde, Newcastle,

for the rescue of a man from a home unit fire at Newcastle.

In the early evening of 21 July 2001, Mr Curtin became aware of fire in a neighbouring home unit, and on investigation, discovered a man trapped behind the unit’s security door.

Unable to open the locked door, he screamed at the occupant to unlock the door. Although burning his hand and being showered by splintering glass, he eventually bent open the screen door, and dragged the badly burnt occupant clear of the smoke filled unit.

Ambulance personnel subsequently conveyed both the injured man and Curtin to hospital for treatment.



Senior Firefighter Philip Brown, 253 Lakedge Ave, Berkley Vale,

Firefighter Rodney Tabone, 13 Alanna Street, Terrigal,

for their actions at the scene of a house fire at Turramurra.

At about 6.00pm on 20 March 2002, the Fire Brigade attended a house fire at Turramurra, where a female occupant was trapped inside on the upper level. Firefighters Brown and Tabone, wearing breathing apparatus, were instructed to effect a rescue utilising an extension ladder at the rear of the premises.

Brown climbed the ladder to the roof of the first floor and observed a person slumped halfway out the window. He pulled the female person out of the window onto the roof, and dragged her toward the ladder. As he dragged the unconscious woman, he stepped through the roof, landing on rafters.

After regaining his balance, he observed the woman was not breathing, so commenced resuscitation and cardiac massage. Tabone came to assist. When the patient responded, Tabone entered the house through a small window to search for any other occupants. He made his way through several rooms before being forced back by heat and flames. Once outside, he and other firefighters entered the house with hoses and extinguished the remainder of the fire.

The woman was finally removed from the house once the fire had been extinguished and smoke had cleared. She was transported to hospital and later made a complete recovery.


Senior Constable Shannon John Fletcher, NSW Police,

Probationary Constable Rick Wilson, NSW Police,

for their actions in the rescue of a youth from a vehicle fire on a property at Narromine.

In the early morning hours of 21 September 2002, Constables Fletcher and Wilson had been pursuing a stolen vehicle at high speed, when the vehicle hit a kangaroo and a number of occupants ran off into bushland.

As Fletcher and Wilson approached the crashed vehicle, another occupant drove the vehicle at the police officers, before crashing through a fence into a paddock. The driver then proceeded to drive in circles to avoid apprehension, before the vehicle crashed into a tree and burst into flames, trapping the driver inside.

Fletcher and Wilson dragged the driver clear just as the vehicle was engulfed in flames. Soon afterwards, the vehicle exploded, throwing both Fletcher and Wilson to the ground.

Rural Fire Services subsequently attended the fire, and the youth was charged with a number of offences.


Leesa Cryer, 12/178 Kalang Road, Edensor Park,

for her actions in assisting a badly burnt woman following an LPG explosion at Edensor Park.

On the evening of 21 September 2002, a man was working on his vehicle in the garage of his residence in Edensor Park when LPG fumes ignited, causing a huge explosion and fire involving the garage, carport and several cars. The man and his partner suffered severe and extensive burns.

Leesa Cryer, who was walking nearby, went to investigate, and discovered the badly burnt persons attempting to remove their clothing and reach a garden tap.

Cryer immediately led the woman to her own house, where her mother could assist in comforting her. Knowing the burned woman was concerned for the safety of her three children, CRYER telephoned 000 for the ambulance, and then left to check on the children’s safety.

Cryer established the three children were unharmed, and in the care of neighbours. She then went to the assistance of the burned man, assuring him his children were safe and his wife was being cared for.

Ambulance personnel arrived, and treated both persons for severe burns.

For her calm, clear and decisive actions in this case, Leesa Cryer has also received a Letter of Commendation.


Catherine Gilroy, 611 Pittwater Road, Dee Why,

for her actions in alerting a family to a house fire at Dee Why.

About 11.30pm on 25 October 2002, Catherine Gilroy noticed an unpleasant smell in the air, and, together with her partner, checked around her home and found nothing amiss.

On checking her neighbour’s house, and not being able to rouse them, she found the back door unlocked, and entered the place to find a haze of smoke. Her calls roused one of the children, who, along with the other two, were then taken outside to safety.

The children’s father eventually located a smouldering mattress which had caused the problem.


Constable Melynda Power, NSW Police,

Probationary Constable Marc Beckinsale, NSW Police,

for their actions in protecting three boys from a bushfire at Macquarie Fields.

On 22 November 2002, Constable Power and Probationary Constable Beckinsale were conducting a routine patrol of Macquarie Fields housing area when they became aware of a large bushfire on Crown land east of Cottonwood Crescent, Macquarie Fields. They attended the scene and directed several children to leave the area. During this time Power heard sceams for help coming from the river, which was about fifty metres down an embankment.

Smoke was extremely thick and visibility was poor, however three young boys could be seen standing on a fallen tree in the river. Power instructed them to stay where they were. As the flames subsided Power and Beckinsale made their way down the embankment to the rivers edge, and proceeded to assist the boys off the tree. Whilst doing this they became engulfed by a wall of fire approximately 4 metres high.

Power ordered everyone into the water, and Beckinsale took hold of the youngest boy and held him in the water. The officers remained in the water with the boys for about ten minutes until the fire passed, and then all left the area with the assistance of the Fire Brigade.

Letters of Commendation

During the year, the following awards were also made:

Darryl Lee Hamilton, 4/2 Brunswick Avenue, Coffs Harbour

Matthew Scott Hamilton, 4/2 Brunswick Avenue, Coffs Harbour

Allan Edward Carroll, 2/38 Karuah Avenue, Coffs Harbour

Ashwinta Roy, The Willows Retirement Village, 226 Windsor Rd, Northmead

Corporal Robert Jones, 57/118 Karimbla Rd, Miranda

Ronald Reading, 6 Reid Place, Illawong

Station Officer Greg Houston, 2 Shannon Drive, Helensburgh

Station Officer Paul Shapter, 25 Dillwynnia Grove, East Heathcote

Station Officer Greg Hopcroft, 31 Dwyer St, Gymea

Firefighter Ian Hamilton, 64 Stafford St, Gerroa

Senior Constable Dean Crowley, Newcastle Police Highway Patrol

Ian Webster, P O Box 8, Berridale

Bob Bruinink, 6 Nepean Avenue, Mannering Park

Mark Christmas, 9 Nepean Avenue, Mannering Park

Leslie Crothers, 15 Nepean Avenue Mannering Park

Leesa Cryer, 12/178 Kalang Road, Edensor Park