Thursday, 13 February 2020
Statements by Members
Wentworth Electorate: Water Safety
I wish to congratulate several brave off-duty Bronte Surf Life Saving Club lifesavers and Waverley Council lifeguards who courageously performed the mass rescue of 11 people caught in the dangerous rip at Bronte Beach last Saturday evening, 8 February, when the beach was unpatrolled. Bronte Surf Life Saving Club captain James McLennan and his wife, Kirsty, were having dinner on their balcony at Bronte at about 7.45 pm when they spotted distressed swimmers being swept out to sea. Both Kirsty and James raced to the club, grabbed rescue boards and paddled out in choppy waves and difficult conditions. James was first to reach the swimmers and quickly brought five swimmers onto his board and to safety.
While James was performing this rescue, a call-out from Bronte surf club's WhatsApp group was meeting with a big response. An incredible 18 volunteer surf lifesavers and three off-duty Waverley Council lifeguards responded to the call for help, including a 13-year-old Nipper.
Conditions at the beach were particularly nasty that evening, making the rescue effort challenging. Nine of the 11 rescues were serious, and one patient was taken to hospital. Were it not for James's efforts, it's very possible that nine people could have lost their lives. Two of the volunteer lifesavers were serving drinks at a 50th birthday in the clubhouse that evening and, unable to find appropriate swimwear, stripped down to their undies to join the rescue effort in true Aussie fashion. Mark Spooner from the Sydney branch of Surf Life Saving New South Wales said: 'It was the most incredible rescue I've ever heard of. It was full-on heroic.' I could not put it better myself.
The Wentworth community is very fortunate to have everyday heroes amongst us who go above and beyond, even when not on duty. I am proud to represent an electorate where surf clubs are the lifeblood of the community and where volunteering is alive and well. I would like to pay tribute to all our surf lifesaving volunteers from all our local surf clubs, not only in Wentworth but also across Australia, who sacrifice their free time so that Australians can enjoy our unique coastline. In particular, let me extend my thanks and congratulations to James and Kirsty McLennan, to the Bronte Surf Life Saving Club and to all those involved in the mass rescue for their immense courage.