MEET OUR STATE’S HUM­BLE HE­ROES

THEIR STO­RIES WILL IN­SPIRE YOU

The Courier-Mail - - FRONT PAGE - CHRIS HONNERY

THESE are our un­sung he­roes – the men and women who have made an ex­tra­or­di­nary con­tri­bu­tion to so­ci­ety through acts of brav­ery, kind­ness and aware­ness.

From sav­ing a young boy in a house fire to rais­ing aware­ness of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, six brave and in­spi­ra­tional Queens­lan­ders were recog­nised dur­ing the Pride of Aus­tralia cer­e­mony in Bris­bane yes­ter­day. The Couri­er­Mail part­nered with Aus­tralia Post and Chan­nel 7 to un­cover and ac­knowl­edge the state’s un­sung he­roes:

VANESSA FOWLER

Ms Fowler was tena­cious in seek­ing jus­tice for her sis­ter Al­li­son Baden-Clay, who was mur­dered by her hus­band Ger­ard in 2012.

De­spite suf­fer­ing in­cred­i­ble heartache, Ms Fowler helped es­tab­lish the Al­li­son Baden-Clay Foun­da­tion to open up a con­ver­sa­tion around do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

She was nom­i­nated for her tire­less work and ded­i­ca­tion to the cause.

“We just find strength and mo­ti­va­tion in the fact that we’re keep­ing Al­li­son’s le­gacy alive and mak­ing it a pos­i­tive one – and also help­ing save lives as we try to make a dif­fer­ence in the com­mu­nity,” she said.

Ms Fowler’s lead­er­ship qual­i­ties have passed on to her nieces, who she said had made her fam­ily proud.

“Han­nah’s fol­low­ing in her mother’s foot­steps,” she said.

“It’s cer­tainly bit­ter­sweet. We’re very proud of what the girls have achieved. It’s also heart-wrench­ing that Al­li­son isn’t here to see it.” Han­nah Baden-Clay has just fin­ished Year 12 at Ip­swich Girls Gram­mar, where she was head girl, and will look to study at uni­ver­sity next year.

“We’re just do­ing our best to raise them to be strong in­de­pen­dent young women,” Ms Fowler said.

LEX PETERSEN PATRICK DRINAN

The Kin­garoy res­i­dents saved a 4-year-old from a burn­ing house, which claimed the life of three other peo­ple.

Mr Petersen, a re­tiree, was driv­ing home from a Ro­tary Club lunch on March 24 when he saw the one-storey house en­gulfed in flames.

Sarah Bond, 33, ar­rived a short time af­ter and could only watch in hor­ror know­ing that her son Zach was trapped in­side with Con­nor, 2, Bruce, 11 months, and their dad, Bruce Fisher Sr, 42. Mr Petersen was joined by Mr Drinan in try­ing to break into the house in a res­cue mis­sion.

“We tried to get in through the back door but the fire was just too much,” he said.

“We had to break in through a win­dow be­cause lit­tle Zach (Fisher) was stand­ing there.”

The young­ster was so ter­ri­fied at the break­ing glass he fled to the next bed­room, where the fire was more fe­ro­cious. The men had to break the win­dow of that bed­room as well and were able to pull Zach to safety.

Zach’s sib­lings and fa­ther died in the fire.

“At least we were able to save one life,” Mr Petersen said.

Mr Drinan said re­unit­ing with Zach sev­eral months

later was an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence. “To see Zach as well as he was, run­ning around as a five-year-old should, it was mind-bog­gling,” he said.

“If we hadn’t rolled up and done what we done, there would have been no way that boy would be run­ning around that park.”

ROCHELLE COURTENAY

The Share The Dig­nity founder was recog­nised for her home­less ini­tia­tive.

Af­ter go­ing through tough times her­self, Ms Courtenay read an on­line ar­ti­cle about the plight of home­less women in Aus­tralia.

She was dev­as­tated at the thought women had to go without ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties such as san­i­tary pads and tam­pons, just to buy food to sur­vive.

In March 2015, she started a small col­lec­tion of san­i­tary items for her lo­cal com­mu­nity. To­day, more than 1.5 mil- lion pack­ets of pads and tam­pons have been do­nated to those in need.

“Though we’ve col­lected so many, we’ve got noth­ing left (such is the de­mand),” she said. “I don’t think we’ll ever get to a stage where we’re able to store these items.

“Home­less­ness is such a big is­sue and we don’t talk enough about the ba­sic san­i­tary needs of these peo­ple.”

JEREMI SIMP­SON

The Toowoomba dad was awarded a Pride of Aus­tralia medal for stop­ping a knifewield­ing man from rob­bing a store.

Mr Simp­son was do­ing his weekly shop with 7-mon­thold son Kaiden when he no­ticed a man he had just walked past had a knife.

Mo­ments later, the man pulled the weapon on a fe­male worker.

“I saw him draw the knife from his side and threaten the young lady be­hind the counter and de­mand cash,” he said.

Mr Simp­son calmly placed his trol­ley, car­ry­ing baby Kaiden, out of harm’s way and launched into ac­tion.

“An­other bloke had nudged him with a trol­ley, yelling at him,” Mr Simp­son said. “That’s when I grabbed him from be­hind, bearhugged him and just dropped him to the ground while the other bloke ran over and helped re­strain him.”

The pair de­tained the man un­til po­lice ar­rived.

DR JOHN HADOK

Cid Har­bour shark at­tack vic­tim Jus­tine Bar­wick has been re­united with the doc­tor who helped save her life.

Dr John Hadok, who works in emer­gency medicine, vis­ited Ms Bar­wick in Tas­ma­nia on Thurs­day – al­most three months af­ter she was bit­ten by a shark on her up­per-right leg. Dr Hadok was awarded a Pride of Aus­tralia medal for his quick think­ing, life-sav­ing ef­forts in the mo­ments af­ter the at­tack.

The 46-year-old Tas­ma­nian woman re­mark­ably sur­vived the Whit­sun­day Is­land at­tack af­ter suf­fer­ing se­ri­ous in­juries and life-threat­en­ing blood loss.

Dr Hadok yes­ter­day re­vealed he had flown south to visit Ms Bar­wick.

“She was re­ally good,” he said. “We re­alised this wasn’t the ac­tions of a hero though.

“There are ev­ery­day mir­a­cles from peo­ple in the com­mu­nity.

“The award should be for those mun­dane mir­a­cles which oc­cur every sin­gle day.”

Ms Bar­wick was one of three shark at­tack vic­tims at the same spot, which re­sulted in a shark cull and drum­lines be­ing in­stalled in the area.

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