Shire's admirable acts of bravery recognised by Royal Life Saving NSW

Acts of bravery showed by three Sutherland Shire holiday-makers have been recognised by Royal Life Saving NSW.

Brent Elphinston of Engadine, Nerida Larter and Kerrie McCulloch, both of Barden Ridge, were on summer vacation with their families at Burrill Lake in January, 2017, when drama unfolded.

The tides had been high all week and had filled the lake. When the tide turned one afternoon, it created a strong surge out through the lake's entrance at Dolphins Point.

Five children and one adult had been swimming at the inlet, and became caught. They were being pulled out to sea by two and a half metre waves,

Mr Elphinston and Mrs McCulloch, strangers to each other at the time, dived into the water to guide the children to safety, while Mrs Larter, a friend of Mrs McCulloch's, directed a bystander to call for help. She stood on the rocks, directing the rescuers.

Mr Elphinston also had to be rescued himself, and was treated for exhaustion at hospital. Mrs McCulloch sustained severe lacerations from the rocks, and was also hospitalised.

Another rescuer helped the pair from the water.

They all receive 'high commendations' for their swift, decisive and unyielding efforts that ensured the rescue of all six people.

"It was totally spontaneous," Mr Elphinston said. "I'd seen many kids and adults get caught in that channel over the years, and I'd always warned my kids to be careful there.

"It's a privilege and an honour to be able to save somebody and give them life back. I still keep in touch with the family. It's a relationship you never otherwise would have had."

Mrs McCulloch says although she feared for her own life, she didn't question her actions.

"I was getting washed back and forth across oysters - I thought I was going to die," she said.

"It was the last day of our holidays. I think this award is awesome - I'm very grateful. I did it without hesitation. I would do it again."

They will be officially rewarded at Government House on August 13, joining others across the state who went well above the call of duty to help somebody else in crisis.

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

"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," he said.

"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 life-saving 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. Quite often people are helping someone they do not even know - they are carrying out a totally selfless act."

They were also among 74 Australians recognised with Australian Bravery Awards by the Governor-General.

"Australian Bravery Awards recognise and celebrate Australians who, faced with a dangerous or perilous situation, think not of themselves or their own safety but about others," the Governor-General said.

"These individuals deserve our admiration - they are an inspiration and examples of the sort of selfless sacrifice that we can all aspire to."

"The Australian Honours System allows us as a nation to recognise and celebrate ordinary people who, in either a moment of peril or over a sustained period, do extraordinary things."

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