Awards for outstanding acts of bravery
Eleven heroic individuals were last night honoured in Government House, at a ceremony reuniting some with the people whose lives they saved.
Rodney Woolridge was the first to receive the Bermuda Bravery Award from Governor Sir Richard Gozney, on behalf of his nephew Shawn Patrick Woolridge, who in 2009 dived into Flatts Inlet to pull a woman safely from her car. On his lapel, Mr Woolridge wore a photograph of his nephew, who died almost a year ago.
Awards were also taken by Cindy Pace, for saving a man being attacked by a dog; Jaqueena Harvey, who at just 14 stepped up to assist a choking bus driver; Harry Patchett and Carly Lima, both of whom helped save a man from drowning, and George Rodrigues, Garon Dowling, Unray Waldron, George Dowling Jr and Kyle Smith, for helping to save a man from an inferno on board a boat in St. George's Harbour. Herman Basden collected the award on behalf of Mr Rodrigues, who is travelling. “Tonight we're honouring eleven of Bermuda's heroes,” Bermuda Bravery Awards Association chairman Mark Selley told the gathering.
“The association feels an obligation to this positive programme, and to recognise these very special individuals, in a crazy, busy world where we're all too often caught up in ourselves, with little or no thought for helping our fellow man.
“Today there is an element of crime in Bermuda that has resorted to the taking of lives with reckless abandon. Tonight, we salute a room full of heroes who have saved or tried to save the lives of people they didn't even know.”
Ms Harvey gave a hug to bus operator Kathy Landy, who said afterwards that she had almost lost her life to a mint stuck in her throat.
“God told her to bring me back,” she said.
And Steven Proctor, who narrowly survived the boat fire, was surrounded by his rescuers, with wife Andrea and 17-year-old son Marcus looking on.
Sir Richard praised the selflessness of the heroes.
“It's easy, in a modern-day culture, where people are necessarily looking after their own interests, to overlook the fact that most people in an emergency will jump to it, and will do it quickly and without thinking and with very real risks to themselves.
“But they will just do it, because they are fellow members of a small community, and that's what you do. You don't think about it; if you stop to think, it's too late.
“I find it bolsters one's own faith in humanity, faith in Bermuda, and faith in the people all around us, that these people did these acts of bravery automatically, without thinking.”
Ms Pace afterwards recalled coming to the aid of Jeffrey Shaw, who on June 28 was badly bitten by a pit bull while walking with his dog on Ocean Avenue, Devonshire.
Relaxing with her mother Mary and her own Maltese dog, Ms Pace heard the attack and rushed to Mr Shaw's aid.
“I don't like aggressive dogs, and for some reason I knew this was really serious. I didn't hesitate,” she said.
Her arrival startled the dog away. Mr Shaw, who she said had worked as a dog warden, had been badly bitten on the legs and arms. “I asked him if he'd had a tetanus shot, and when he said no, I told him: 'You're going to need it.'”
Ms Pace said she was surprised when Mr Shaw's mother, SPCA investigator Debbie Masters, told her some months later she'd nominated her for a Bravery Award. “I just did what I felt needed to be done. I didn't think twice.”