MEET OUR STATE’S HUMBLE HEROES
THEIR STORIES WILL INSPIRE YOU
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:
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.”
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.”
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.