Brodie and Abby Johnston with their Lifesaving Excellence Awards.
Brodie and Abby Johnston with their Lifesaving Excellence Awards. Mike Knott

Kids praised for aid to man, 79

WHEN Brodie and Abby Johnston saw elderly neighbour Henry Farlow collapse in his Norville front yard following a stroke last November, their years of surf lifesaving training kicked in.

The quick-thinking siblings, then 13 and 11, abandoned their ride to school and worked as a team to put Mr Farlow, 79, in the recovery position, reassure his wife Dawn, and hail a passer-by to call Triple-0.

Sadly, the elderly man lost his fight for life five days later but, almost a year on, the young pair have been presented with prestigious Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) lifesaving excellence awards, an honour given to members or the public for their outstanding actions or commitment.

It is believed to be at least seven years since a lifesaver from Bundaberg has been presented with such an award.

Brodie and Abby, now 14 and 12 respectively, were presented with the awards at a dinner on Saturday night, where they were given a standing ovation by their peers.

“I was really surprised they took it this far,” Brodie said.

“I was more than happy to just get a thank you from Dawn.”

The teenager, who has been involved with surf lifesaving since he was seven, began patrolling Bundaberg beaches last year and said it was something he would never give up.

“I love the way you can make new friends and the skills you learn,” he said.

“I would definitely encourage other people to get involved because you will make friends and skills for life.”

His younger sister said one of the most important things for her was to thank SLSQ not just for the award, but for giving them the skills to help others.

“We both want to say a huge thanks to SLSQ and an even bigger thank you to Craig Holden, who nominated us,” Abby said.

“It is such a big honour.”

Mr Holden, the Surf Life Saving Queensland Wide Bay Capricorn general manager, said the siblings had earned the award.

“For them to react the way they did was fantastic,” Mr Holden said.

“The unique thing about surf lifesaving is it's not just a sport, it develops life skills. We don't just produce lifesavers but good community members.”

The kids' biggest fan, their mum Wendy Johnston, who is also a lifeguard, said proud was an understatement of how she felt about their actions.

Ms Johnston said she was glad it was her children riding their bikes past Mr Farlow's home last year, even if he later lost his fight for life.

“I'm just glad it was them because they knew what to do,” she said.

“They really proved they could do it when it came to crunch time and I couldn't be prouder.”

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