Michael Bethune and his proud mum, Sandra Shipley, shortly after the teenager and others had helped save an elderly woman from drowning in the Clarence River in July 2008. Mr Bethune was awarded a Commendation for Brave Conduct from the NSW Governor on Friday.
Michael Bethune and his proud mum, Sandra Shipley, shortly after the teenager and others had helped save an elderly woman from drowning in the Clarence River in July 2008. Mr Bethune was awarded a Commendation for Brave Conduct from the NSW Governor on Friday.

Awards honour brave teens' rescue

ON JULY 21, 2008, two teenage boys, Michael Bethune and Corey Warburton, braved the icy winter water of the Clarence River to rescue Joylyn Peneder, an elderly woman who had jumped from Grafton Bridge – saving her from almost certain death.

Almost three years on, the actions of the two teens on that day continue to draw praise from the community with Mr Bethune being awarded a Commendation for Brave Conduct by NSW Governor, Marie Bashir in a ceremony held at Government House in Sydney last Friday.

Mr Bethune, aged 16 at the time, dove into the water from the South Grafton river bank after seeing Corey, who had leapt from the bridge after seeing Ms Peneder face down in the water, struggling to get the woman to shore.

Mr Bethune, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, swam out to help bring the woman through thick reeds to the river bank with the help of Grafton police officers.

Now 19, Mr Bethune, a second-year heavy vehicle mechanic living in Penrith, was humbled to receive the prestigious commendation which is the fourth-highest bravery honour which can be awarded to Australian citizens.

“I was pretty happy – it was just unbelievable,” Mr Bethune said.

“I found out about it in August last year, but I was told to keep it on the low.”

He said the thought he was doing something heroic hadn't crossed his mind during the ordeal – he'd just done what needed to be done.

“The whole thing went really fast, I don't really remember much, it was just instinct I think.”

Mr Bethune also received a Rescuer of the Year Award and NSW Police Recommendation award for his actions.

Although, living thousands of kilometres apart, Mr Bethune said there was still a bond between those involved in the rescue.

“I have Corey on Facebook so I talk to him every now and again and last year I received a letter from the lady we rescued,” he said.



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