St Joseph’s College Hunters Hill today celebrated the courage and service of four Year 10 boys who ran into dangerous surf at Newport Beach late on Sunday afternoon to rescue a group of children and two men who had become caught in a rip.
Archie Campbell, Finn Graham, Atticus Heaven and Harry Moxham were at Newport Beach with the Lindfield Junior Rugby Club, where they play in the under-16s.
Following a pre-season training session on the sand, about seven of the club’s under-10 boys went into the water at the beach’s northern end and became caught in a current close to shore. Two fathers went in to help, and got into trouble themselves.
The quick action of the Joeys boys, which prevented what could have been a terrible tragedy – two ambulances and a number of police attended the scene – was lauded by the Headmaster, Dr Chris Hayes.
“They are absolutely marvellous,” said Dr Hayes, who presented the boys with Service Awards at Thursday Assembly. “They live what we would hope of every Joeys boy. They see a need and do something about it. They saw people in trouble in the water, and in they went.
“They put into practice what they have learned through our Marist culture of really lending a hand, as well as what they’re learning in their PE lessons, particularly in the attainment of their Bronze Medallions.”
It was only on the Wednesday prior to the rescue that the boys and their fellow Year 10 students were in the College pool completing their Bronze Medallions. The four boys also play water polo, one of the sports offered at Joeys, adding to their strength and skills in the water.
“Me and another bloke from our team swam out to the dads,” said Archie, from Forest Lodge, “and with what we’ve learned from our Bronze Medallions, we went in the right way, made sure we were safe and held one of the dads up, and got some surfers to come in and put him on their board.”
The boys recounted how the drama unfolded.
“Me, Finn and Archie were standing at the top of the hill, and we saw Atticus pull a kid out, so we ran down onto the shore and me and Finn jumped in and swam to the kids, and Archie swam to the parents,” said Harry, from Hunters Hill.
Finn, from Roseville Chase, said the scene from the shore was deceiving: “It didn’t look like they were in trouble, and then once you got out there you could see how much panic they were in.”
Atticus, from Lindfield, recalled: “I was leaving the beach, and one of the mums who knew I did water polo, said ‘can you go help that boy’. I went in, then it started to get really serious, and nothing felt better than when I saw all the boys coming in to help.”
“The school should be really proud; they get their kids in the water, and they really focus on character, which is something I have certainly seen shine through,”MR SANDY BASTEN
According to Harry, “The expression on Atticus’s face when he saw us, because he thought he had to save all nine of them, and then we came running in and his face lit up and it was just awesome.”
The president of the Lindfield Junior Rugby Club, Sandy Basten, praised the boys, their families and the College for the boys’ actions.
“The school should be really proud; they get their kids in the water, and they really focus on character, which is something I have certainly seen shine through,” Mr Basten said. “And the boys should be very proud of who they are, and where they come from.
“The way they reacted was outstanding, and the connection between the school and what happened was there – the fact they had done their Bronze Medallion, and had the confidence to go in without putting themselves in danger.
“And it shows the quality of human beings they are, to go in and help their younger club members like that.”
The boys said it meant a lot to them to be officially recognised by the College with Service Awards.
“It’s a good feeling, but we know lots of other boys would have done the same thing; we just did what we had to,” said Atticus.
“It’s not about the praise, it’s about making sure they were OK.”