26/03/2024 04:22 PM

Two volunteers who braved dangerous flood water in pursuit of a car washed off a causeway south of Sydney last year were among those recognised at the NSW SES Metro Zone awards on Saturday.

NSW SES Commissioner Carlene York APM presented awards to more than 200 volunteers for courage, outstanding service and long service.

“These awards are an important way we can show our appreciation for the hard work and dedication many SES volunteers have for their communities,” Commissioner York said.

Fiona Butlin from the Sutherland SES Unit and Elyse Riordan from the Cronulla SES Unit received a Commissioner’s Commendation for Courage for their actions performed in torrential rain on 9 February 2023.

Ms Butlin and Ms Riordan launched their rescue craft into what a park ranger described as extremely violent and fast flowing flood waters, after a hatchback was swept off the Audley Weir and carried downstream.

Bystanders had told the rescuers that a person had been seen in the water near the car.

It was only after searching for the following hour that all vehicle occupants were accounted for safely.

“We don’t do it for recognition, we do it for the community,” Ms Butlin said.

“The people we help are having the worst day of their life – helping them is our reward.”

Dozens of volunteers were also recognised for their service in widespread flash flooding across Sydney that same day last year.

In a 24-hour period on the 9 February 2023, NSW SES volunteers responded to 1315 incidents, including 64 flood rescues.

Exceptional long service was also recognised at the awards. Peter Lalor from the Metro Award and Ceremonial Capability Unit received the National Medal Clasp 4, for more than 55 years of service.

I’ve been privileged to see lots of changes over a long time,” Mr Lalor said.

“We’ve come a long way.”

Ian Shepherd from the Campbelltown SES Unit received NSW SES life membership in recognition of his sustained and distinguished service of almost 40 years.

During his time, he has been involved with major incidents including the Newcastle Earthquake in 1989 and the Thredbo landslide disaster in 1997.

However, Mr Shepherd said the most rewarding element of his time with the NSW SES was mentoring new volunteers and watching them develop their skills.

“To think that someone has taken the time to nominate me, and to hear the applause when I received the life membership, it was quite humbling,” he said.


For emergency help in floods and storms, call the NSW SES on 132 500. In life threatening situations, call Triple Zero (000) immediately. 

For more information, contact Ben Deacon on 0422 635 289 or

Metro Awards photographs-

Audley Weir rescue vision-

Shellarbour City
ANZAC DAY MARCH Thursday 25/04/2024 04:00 AM to 25/04/2024 09:00 AM
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