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Jurien Bay Marine Rescue recognised by international body for heroic efforts

Lachlan AllenGeraldton Guardian
The Jurien Bay team of Chrissy Heu and Michael Cockburn with their runners-up award for outstanding team contribution to maritime search and rescue.
Camera IconThe Jurien Bay team of Chrissy Heu and Michael Cockburn with their runners-up award for outstanding team contribution to maritime search and rescue. Credit: Supplied

The dramatic rescue of five passengers off the coast of Jurien Bay last year, including a father and his 11-year-old daughter, has earned a local Marine Rescue team global recognition from the International Maritime Rescue Federation.

The awards recognise volunteer and professional search-and-rescue personnel from around the world who have shown excellence in their field.

Jurien Bay’s Chrissy Heu and Michael Cockburn were runners-up for the outstanding team contribution to the maritime search and rescue operation award.

The SOS Mediterranee R/S Ocean Viking SAR Team comprising of members from France, Italy and Switzerland won the award.

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It is the first time any marine group from WA has been honoured at these awards.

They were recognised for the rescue off the coast of Jurien Bay in May 2021. In treacherous conditions, the team worked alongside other agencies to successfully locate the missing passengers, including Glenn Anderson and his 11-year-old daughter Ruby.

The father and daughter, with a broken leg, tried to swim to shore and spent more than four hours in rough seas when their yacht sank off the coast of Jurien Bay.

The pair were eventually rescued and airlifted to Perth after the yacht’s five occupants were thrown overboard when their vessel hit Boiler Reef about five nautical miles west of the tourist town. The three other people had been rescued after about two hours in the water.

Mr Cockburn, the Marine Rescue Commander, said he was overwhelmed when they were announced as runners up.

“We don’t expect to be recognised outside of WA so It was a bit of a shock. When we first found out we were nominated, to be one of the finalists and then finish runner-up it’s a pretty good feeling,” he said.

“I mean you look at the other people that are involved and nominated for awards, a lot are professionals.”

The pair were up against fellow finalists from Nigeria, France, Italy, Switzerland, South Africa, Sweden, the UK, and the Netherlands as well as the Canadian and New Zealand Coastguard.

“Some pretty major groups that we were up against. So to have two people from a small country down in WA recognised for that it’s something pretty special.”

The crew was also acknowledged locally for the same rescue earlier in the year, winning the Western Australian Fire and Emergency Services team Award.

“The last two years have been particularly challenging as the world has struggled to manage the global pandemic, but regardless responders have continued to answer the call of those in need at sea and in the world’s waters”, said IMRF CEO Theresa Crossley.

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