Lifesavers recognised in Australia Day Honours

Life Saving Victoria (LSV) is celebrating with dedicated members and their families, who are today receiving Australia Day Honours after serving their communities and lifesaving clubs for well over a century collectively.

The late David Sinclair Renton OAM has been awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his dedicated work to surf lifesaving. A much loved and respected member of the Ocean Grove Surf Life Saving Club since 1965, David was made a life member in 1989.

David Renton in his lifesaving uniform

He was a founding member of the Ocean Grove branch of Disabled Surfers Association of Australia, ensuring that the joy of surfing was accessible to all. In a fitting tribute to his dedication, the Ocean Grove David Renton Patrol Tower is named in his honour, in recognition of him never missing a patrol in 54 years of devoted service.

David’s daughter, Melanie Renton said that her father would be humbled by the award and she and her family plan to remember him and celebrate his win with a surf in front of the David Renton Patrol Tower.

“For dad, lifesaving was never a duty or a job, it was his passion, all he wanted through his involvement at Ocean Grove SLSC and the Victorian branch of the Disabled Surfers Association of Australia was for everyone to have the opportunity to share his love of the beach,” she said.

“Dad being awarded the Order of Australia Medal is a great honour and I can’t wait to be able to celebrate with mum and the club members.

“The club was dad’s happy place and provided such a solid support network after my mum had a stroke 22 years ago. Dad and mum were the A team, but the club was always right there behind them.”

Receiving the Emergency Services Medal is Paul Lunny ESM, who has provided 52 years of service to the Victorian and to the Surf Coast community in a variety of roles at Life Saving Victoria (LSV).

An active patrolling member at Anglesea Surf Life Saving Club since 1975 and Point Lonsdale Surf Life Saving Club since 2009, such is Paul’s passion for community service and reducing preventable deaths on Victorian waterways that he has recently given up retirement to return to LSV in a full time role.

He has provided exceptional service in supporting the delivery of lifesaving services to over 8.5 million Victorian beachgoers and managed the delivery of high-quality lifesaving services at beaches between Lorne and Torquay for over fifteen years.

Paul contributed his knowledge and decades of experience at both LSV and fire agencies, to reviewing the training requirements and delivery to Victoria’s 500 patrol captains, who are responsible for managing the initial response to rescues completed by lifesavers, improving the curriculum to include contemporary emergency management practices.

He credits the medal not to himself, but to the many people he has met and worked with along with way throughout his lifesaving journey.

“While I may be receiving the Emergency Services Medal, it is for the work that I have done with a lot of people, often dealing with some really tough situations,” he said.

“This gives you a permanent connection almost like blood brothers and sisters, and once you’ve conducted a rescue and you know everything is okay, you have a real buzz knowing what you do is really important and has saved someone’s life.”

Life Saving Victoria director lifesaving services Kane Treloar said with an unwavering commitment to making the community he lives in a better place, and a decades-long commitment to reducing drowning, Paul was a very worthy recipient of the Emergency Services Medal.

“Paul instigated LSV’s first involvement in the municipal emergency management process in the Surf Coast area, and was a key leader as we matured and transitioned into an emergency service,” Mr Treloar said.

“It is only through the leadership, vision and hard work of people like Paul Lunny that LSV is a firmly cemented member of the emergency management family in 2022. Without this vision from people like Paul, we would not be where we are today.

“Personally, I am so grateful to have had someone like Paul as a mentor as I moved through lifesaving; who demonstrated the values of LSV and instilled in me the responsibility we have to grow the organisation for the benefit of the community and members that will come after us.”

Life Saving Victoria is also proud to acknowledge patron and honourary member of the Anglesea Surf Life Saving Club, Francis Herd OAM, who has been awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his services to the meat processing industry and to the community.

Francis Herd OAM

Francis has been patron of the club since 2009, following in his father’s footsteps and continuing the family’s involvement with the club, which began in the 1960’s.

In a nod to the selflessness which appears as a recurring trait of the honourees, Francis finds it difficult to take credit for his years of volunteering and contributing to the wider community.

“This award really is about the community, it’s about all the different people who have come together along the way, it’s not about one person,” Francis said.

“I’m honoured and just hope that I can continue giving back to the communities and groups who do so much.”

Alistair “John” Forsyth has also been honored with the Order of Australia Medal, receiving the award for his services to the community of Wollombi Valley. Mr Forsyth was a very proud member of Point Leo SLSC and is an Honorary Life Member of the Club. He was in the first Leo Bronze squad in December 1955 and won the first medal for the club at the Aussies at Torquay in 1956.

An additional lifesaving member to receive an Australia Day Honour includes Mr Howard Willoughby, who was awarded an Emergency Services Medal. He has provided 12 years of continuous service to the Port Fairy Marine Rescue Service (PFMRS), after retiring from professional fishing and charter services.

Mr Russell Lyle Lemke, from Port Fairy Marine Rescue, was also awarded an Emergency Services Medal. Mr Lemke is an active member, having worked as an electronics specialist and deck crew. During his time with marine rescue, he has either been directly involved with or assisted in the rescue of 117 people at sea.

To read the full list of recipients head to

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