IN the early hours of May 6, 2015, Cannington resident Richard Spytek risked his life to save his elderly neighbour from a burning house.
Last Sunday the Governor-General officially recognised this act of bravery when Mr Spytek received an Australian Bravery Award.
On the fateful day, Mr Spytek recalls being woken by his pet cat.
He went to the bedroom window to investigate and saw flames coming out of the roof of the house next door.
He told other occupants of his house to call 000. Knowing that the residents of the burning house were elderly, he rushed outside to assist.
As he reached the street, he saw that his elderly female neighbour had been able to get out. She told Mr Spytek that her husband was still inside. By this time, the building was well alight.
Mr Spytek entered the burning house to find the elderly man.
He found him in the living room and grabbed hold of him. He then guided the man out the front door to the safety of the lawn.
He was one of 26 people announced last Sunday as a recipient of a Bravery Medal.
Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove said the awards drew national attention to the personal efforts of individuals, made willingly, without thought of personal risk.“We are fortunate as a community to have so many outstanding people willing to put themselves in harm’s way to assist others in need,” he said.
“On behalf of all Australians, I thank them for their bravery.
“They are a source of courage, support and inspiration, and we are a stronger, safer and more caring nation because of them.”
Mr Spytek is part of more than 50,000 recipients of Australian honours.
The Australian Bravery Decorations date from the establishment of the Australian honours system and recognise acts of bravery in other than warlike situations by people who put themselves in jeopardy to protect the lives or property of others.
Since 1975 and including the awards announced last Sunday, there have been five awards of the Cross of Valour, 159 awards of the Star of Courage, 1293 awards of the Bravery Medal, 2018 Commendations for Brave Conduct and 175 awards of the Group Bravery Citation.
Anyone may nominate another person for an Australian Bravery Decoration.
Recipients will attend investitures in the coming months around Australia to receive the insignia of their award.