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Heroism on the high seas

JOB DONE: Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes congratulates lifeguards Scott Hammerton, left and Paul Bernard on their daring rescue. Picture: Jonathon CarrollIT was June 5, in the middle of the east coast low, and the seas were mountainous when Nobbys lifeguards Scott Hammerton and Paul Bernardstarted getting calls about four surfers lost off Stockton Beach.
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“It wasas big as I had ever seen it,” Mr Bernard, a lifeguard for 13 years, said. “It’s hard to put a size on it but we were seeing 10-foot waves breaking off Nobbys.”

Amid some of the mostimposing swell ever reported in Newcastle, the lifeguards pulled off a daring rescue that this week won them recognition from Newcastle City Council for their bravery.

The pair jumped on a jet ski and headed out from Horseshoe Beach. Oneof the surfers had been swept safelyinto the harbour but they found the other three huddled together in the impact zone about 600 metres offshore.

Having located the lost surfers, the lifeguards then had to decide how to effect a rescue, with just one jet ski built for no more than three.

“I really didn’t want to leave anyone out there,” Mr Bernard said. “Scott’s wife was due to have a baby thenext day, so I thought he already had enough drama in his life to deal with.”

In the end, the lifeguards steered the jet ski expertly back to Stockton Beach through the treacherous surf with all five aboard –plusthree boards.

Despite their heroics, the pair felthumbled receiving their award from lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes at council chambers on Tuesday.

“At the end of the day, we are just doing our job,” Mr Hammerton said.

Heroism on the high seas TweetFacebookPhotos taken by Justin Martin on Stockton breakwall during the June 5 rescue

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