17th September 2018
After more than 15 years of service, local Whitsundays Island Marine Rescue volunteer, Mal Priday has been announced as a finalist for the 2018 QBANK Everyday Heroes Awards.
The Achievement award recognises a passionate individual who has delivered outstanding performance and high achievement in their workplace.
Mr Priday was shocked at the announcement, and at first thought the email was spam.
“It was entirely unexpected. It’s just doing something for the community and using the training and experience that I’ve got,” Mr Priday said.
“I’m quite humbled by the recognition,” he said.
Mr Priday has been volunteering with VMR Whitsundays for 17 years and has completed many rescue operations within the community.
Back in October 2017, Mr Priday, his wife and crew were off duty, sailing to Pancake Creek. Around 7am amidst a patch of rough seas and strong winds they heard a man desperately screaming from the distance.
What they discovered was Ruben McDornan, a fisherman who had been stranded for eight hours after his trawler, Dianne capsized killing six fishermen.
“I have been with VMR for 17 years, and that training paid off because we had him on board in 3-4 minutes,” Mr Priday said.
“If there was a one or two degree change in course or if we were travelling at a different speed, we wouldn’t have met him at the time we did,”
“I’ve pulled people out of the water before but have never been in a situation like that in the middle of the ocean in rough conditions with a guy in the water saying come and get me. I’m not looking forward to it happening again either,” he said.
Although a tragic event, Mr Priday and his experienced crew pulled off a remarkable rescue operation.
Mr Priday was praised by the local community as a hero. President of Marine Rescue Queensland, Graham Kingston described Mal as “a very straightforward, likeable fellow” who is “a real asset to the Whitsundays”.
“The business that we do is very much out of the public eye,” Mr Kingston said.
“Our volunteers don’t get the recognition they deserve,"
“We wish him all the best and it’s very much deserved if it’s a successful outcome".
The 2018 QBANK Everyday Heroes Awards will be judged on September 21.