Galba rescuer rewarded for brave conduct

GALBA man Philippe Ravenel has been awarded a Commendation for Brave Conduct by Governor General Quentin Bryce for his heroic rescue of two swimmers in 2008.
Nanjing Night Net

Mr Ravenel, a blacksmith from Galba, near Cobargo, was humbled to hear of the commendation, which comes after he received a Bronze Medal from the Humane Society in a ceremony at Government House in Sydney last year for his bravery.

Speaking of this latest honour, Mr Ravenel had mixed feelings.

“How do I feel? Well, a mixture of a little bit of pride somewhere and a bit of, well, I really don’t like to put myself forward,” he said.

“I suppose that anybody in the same situation would have done the same, or at least give it a go.”

What Mr Ravenel “gave a go” was saving the lives of two swimmers at Haywards Beach near Wallaga Lake in February 2008.

He was walking on the beach with his wife Marie-Claude in the afternoon when they noticed two swimmers about 100 metres out from shore in trouble.

Mr Ravenel, who emigrated from Switzerland to Australia eight year ago, said although he was not an experienced surf swimmer he felt compelled to save the couple.

“I suppose most people would, there were other people on the beach, but I suppose none of them felt able to swim out there,” he said.

“I’ve been trained to do scuba diving and in the course of that training, I’d done some lifesaving so I felt I could do something, but of course I was not aware of the rips at the time!”

Mr Ravenel swam to the woman, who told him to help her partner first as he was a weaker swimmer and was struggling to keep his head above water.

“I got him to the beach first, and I thought she would be fine, but when I got back, my wife, who was standing on the beach, told me the woman was still there.

“So I had to go back, and she had been taken out further because she was in a rip.”

Mr Ravenel, who said he grew up swimming in lakes in Switzerland, had no idea about the dangerous rips common at Australian beaches.

Although it was a struggle to bring the woman back through the surf, he said it was made easier because she was calm.

“I had still in my mind that they would react strongly and then I would see if I would retreat or still help.

“That was my worry more than anything else, but they were so exhausted they were calm,” he said.

When he got back to the shore it became apparent the woman was in serious trouble after she collapsed.

She had exhausted herself trying to save her partner before Mr Ravenel arrived and needed resuscitation.

Luckily Ms Ravenel had done a first-aid course and between her and some other people on the beach they managed to keep her breathing until an ambulance arrived.

“The following day I rang Bega Hospital to have some news and learned she had been flown to Canberra, but she was fine in the end,” he said.

Curiously, the couple, who are believed to have been from Goulburn, never tracked down Mr Ravenel to thank him despite his efforts in saving their lives.

For Mr Ravenel, doing the right thing on the day was the only thing that mattered, and accolades, whether from the couple he saved or the Governor General, are of little concern to this unassuming blacksmith.

However, others obviously believe he should be celebrated for his bravery, with Mr Ravenel nominated for this latest award by Cobargo policeman Senior Constable Andrew Burden.

The Governor General Ms Bryce said of the award, “We are privileged to have such role models in our society, and it is an honour to be able to recognise their acts of selfless bravery and thank them publicly for their brave actions.”

Galba blacksmith Philippe Ravenel, who has been awarded a Commendation for Brave Conduct for saving the lives of two swimmers four years ago.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Posted by at 18/05/2018
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