Cobram resident Will Slatterie has joined a list awash with valour and gallantry, after the 15-year-old was recently bestowed a Commendation for Brave Conduct award for his lifesaving efforts at Thompsons Beach last year.
Will was invited to a ceremony held at Government House in Melbourne on November 28, where he was presented the award by Victorian Governor General Linda Dessau, after being nominated earlier in March this year.
“It was pretty strange at first, I had never really dressed up like that before, but it was good,” Will said.
On January 18 last year, when he was just 13, Will was swimming with friends when a piercing scream snapped him out of a playful state and straight into survival mode.
The harrowing sight of a woman and her three children wrestling against the current flashed across his line of sight, a view at which most people his age would let panic sink in and shy away from such a such a precarious rescue – but not Will.
He immediately dove into action, plucking two young boys from certain death and placing them on the safety of the shore, before returning to the water to save the lives of the mother and daughter, who remained clasped in a perilous struggle.
After the shock of the situation wore off following the near-disaster, a fleeting sense of relief flooded over the family who Will had saved, as they expressed their heartfelt gratitude in a moment of respite.
“They sat on the beach for a bit afterwards, and then came over and gave me a big hug and a kiss for saving them,” Will said.
And while he maintains a humble outlook on his heroic exploits, the impact of his courageous act is not lost on those who he saved on that day.