Brayden Hawkins, Cooper Sweeney, Ben McCulkin and Daniel Leahy – The Lakes SLSC

Four teenagers and two other members of The Lakes Surf Life Saving Club carried out a mass rescue of 18 young people at Soldiers Beach, Norah Head.

The rescue began at about 6.30pm on Friday 27th Novmber when 14 year old Ben McCulkin saw a number of people caught in a fast moving rip sweeping them out to sea.

The group were struggling in the 3ft swell and being taken out in the rip towards the rocks on the northern headland. With the lifeguards having finished for the day and no lifesaving gear available on the beach, Ben swam out and managed to retrieve 3 people and bring them back to safety, before going back out and bringing a futher 4 people back to the beach.

Brayden Hawkins, 15 and Johnny Walker, 70 assisted some of the patients who had been swept up onto the rocks, helping them to safety.

Meanwhile another Lakes Beach SLSC member, Dave Solman grabbed his board and paddled to four more patients in the water, bringing them back in, where teenagers Daniel Leahy and Cooper Sweeney helped them back to the beach.

Dave and Ben then returned to the water to retrieve a struggling 12 year old and an adult who had tried to help the child and got in distress. Realising that a return to the beach wasn’t possible, the lifesavers took them to an area on the rocks, guided by Brayden who used his signals to get them to a safe place.

Once everyone had been returned to shore, the lifesavers provided first aid for the many cuts and abrasions that the patients had from the rocks.

“If our team had not acted so swiftly and professionally, this mass rescue could have gone horribly wrong and ended in tragedy,” said proud President of The Lakes SLSC, Sean Leicester.

“It was great to see so many of our youth members spring to action and use the skills and training that our club provides to help save many lives.

“It was just the right people in the right place at the right time.”

“The club’s really brought us all up as a team and we knew exactly what to do with communications and signals,” Ben said

“Afterwards, when the adrenaline started to wear off, it was like well, that just happened, and it could have been a catastrophe.”

All four boys have taken part in a partnership program between The Lakes Surf Club and their school, St Brigid’s College, in which they spend Friday afternoons training for their Surf Rescue Certificate and/or Bronze Medallion.

They are assigned patrols and are members of the club.

The other two lifesavers just happened to be at Soldiers Beach that day.

“If our members hadn’t intervened, the incident could very well have ended in tragedy,” Sean said.

The teenagers have been nominated for the Rescue of the Month award for Surf Life Saving Central Coast.

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