Wangara and Woodvale nominees in 2019 WA Australian of the Year Awards

Craig Challen has been named the 2019 WA Australian of the Year .
Craig Challen has been named the 2019 WA Australian of the Year .

A CAVE-diving rescuer and a surf lifesaving stalwart are among the nominees for the 2019 WA Australian of the Year Awards.

Announced today, Craig Challen, of Wangara, has been nominated for the WA Australian of the Year Award while Woodvale resident Anne-Marie Widermanski is up for the senior award.

Dr Challen was part of the international team that rescued 12 boys and their coach from a flooded cave in Thailand.

The retired vet, who has dived some of Australia’s deepest wrecks and set depth records, was chosen for the mission based on his technical expertise.

Working 10 to 12 hours a day in dangerous conditions, he repeatedly risked his life as the children were swum one-by-one through the dark and narrow flooded caves.

Despite admitting he initially thought the rescue would be too difficult to accomplish, he played a leading role in the successful mission.

Dr Challen was awarded the Star of Courage for his unwavering and selfless bravery following the rescue.

Since 1987, Ms Widermanski has given her time, energy and expertise to surf lifesaving as a volunteer.

Anne-Marie Widermanski

A passionate life member of the Mullaloo Surf Life Saving Club and Surf Life Saving WA, the 68-year-old has held many roles within surf lifesaving, including as a group manager, trainer and assessor, Mullaloo club president, SLSWA chief trainer and assessor of first aid, and visiting trainer and assessor for Broome and Mindil Beach (NT) surf clubs during the winter season.

Ms Widermanski’s willingness to share her time and knowledge has been recognised at the Surf Life Saving Australia National Awards of Excellence, which named her Assessor of the Year in 2016.

She has also received other awards including the 2000 SLSWA Volunteer of the Year and the National Service Medal.

The winners will be announced at Government House in Perth on Tuesday evening before joining other state and territory recipients at the national awards in Canberra on January 25.