Community News

Bryce Ellis – his quick, brave and selfless actions resulted in the rescue of multiple victims. File photo

“We never cease to be amazed at just how courageous members of the public can be”

An incredible array of courageous people from around New South Wales – who have performed astonishing acts of bravery – were saluted on Tuesday (August 13) at Government House in Sydney.

Among those honoured was Yamba man Bryce Ellis recognised for his bravery at the Commendation ceremony.

The special recognition was awarded to people who went well above the call of duty to help somebody else in crisis.

Royal Life Saving NSW Chief Executive Officer Michael Ilinsky says the special ceremony is a way of thanking incredible individuals who have often saved a life and made a massive difference to somebody else.

Michael Ilinsky said, “Her Excellency The Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC, Governor of New South Wales present the commendations. We will deliberately stop and sing the praises of heroes who haven’t looked for the spotlight but well and truly deserve to have the spotlight shone on them.”

“We never cease to be amazed at just how courageous members of the public can be. These special commendation awards are given to people who have displayed outstanding initiative, expertise and empathy towards others. They are given to people who have applied critical lifesaving skills in emergency situations. Some of these people have risked their own life to carry out an act of bravery.”

“Simply put, these people are deeply inspiring. The very least we can do is salute them and thank them for their enormous bravery.  Quite often people are helping someone they do not even know – they are carrying out a totally selfless act.”

Michael Ilinsky added, “Certificates of Commendation were presented to members of the general public, the NSW Police Award to officers of the New South Wales Police Force, the Fire & Rescue NSW Award to officers of Fire & Rescue NSW and the NSW Rural Fire Service Award to officers of the NSW Rural Fire Service.”    

“Royal Life Saving NSW is absolutely delighted to be part of this event. Make no mistake, it is absolutely critical to salute the quiet heroes who have done something amazing … with no fuss … because they wanted to help someone else in trouble. Each and every person is a very worthy recipient.  Huge congratulations to everyone involved – we are very inspired by you all.”

The citation for Bryce Ellis reads as follows:

Late in the afternoon of 4 March, 2018, Bryce Ellis had been fishing at the north end of Main Beach Yamba and was making his way home across the beach.  Hearing screams, he turned and ran back along the beach. 

A group of tourists who had been playing in the shallow water near him were in trouble. Five females and one male had floated out of their depth and panicked as they entered deeper water and were being dragged out by a strong rip. One of the teenage girls had gone under a few times and had swallowed water. 

Bryce assessed the situation and began assisting the two girls who were in the most trouble, holding one on each arm.  The young man was holding on to his leg and grabbing at his clothes, pushing Bryce under the water. 

Bryce managed to get all three to safety and went back for the other two girls who were holding on to a kickboard and a noodle. He guided them into safety. The group spoke limited English but Bryce was able to keep reassuring them. 

He assisted the group on to the submerged rocks to safety. Bryce estimated that two of the girls would not have lasted much longer … as they were exhausted. He stayed on the rocks with them for a while to ensure they were able to make their way back over the slippery rocks. 

High Commendations are awarded to Bryce Ellis for his quick, brave and selfless actions rescuing multiple victims. Mr Ellis did not seek to be given any praise or credit for his actions but this situation could easily have turned into a major search operation.