Priest who rescued surfer recognised for bravery

Fr Liam Ryan (St John of God Midland Public Hospital)

You may not expect a priest to surf, let alone rescue someone attacked by a shark 100 metres offshore, but Perth priest Fr Liam Ryan has been recognised with a national bravery reward for that very feat. Source: St John of God Health Care.

Fr Ryan, along with other rescuers, was recently announced as an Australian Bravery Award recipient by the Governor General David Hurley.

He was recognised for displaying considerable bravery during the rescue of 28-year-old surfer Phil Mummert, following a shark attack at Bunker Bay, Western Australia, on July 31, 2020.

Fr Ryan, a chaplain St John of God Midland Public Hospital, said he felt very honoured and grateful for receiving the award, but really acted on instinct.

“I was holidaying down south with my best mate Jess Woolhouse and his family, and we decided to go for a quick surf at Bunker Bay,” Fr Liam explained.

“We had not been in the water long and were paddling back out to catch our second wave, when I noticed the dorsal fin of a five-metre great white shark surfacing next to a surfer.

“The shark lunged at the surfer, biting into his surfboard and lower leg, tipping the surfer into the water.”

Mr Mummert was able to shove half of his broken surfboard into the shark’s open mouth. The shark continued to circle with the injured man fending it off. Fr Ryan, Mr Woolhouse and a third surfer, Alex Oliver, paddled out to Mr Mummert to provide help.

“Phil was very lucky, we later found out that the shark just missed his main artery. You might call that luck but I like to think it was providence,” Fr Ryan said.

“Two years later we have all since become close friends and regularly catch up.”

All three rescuers received the Bravery Award. They were also awarded the 2021 Surf Life Saving WA’s annual Coastal Bravery Award.

FULL STORY

Fr Liam recognised for bravery to save surfer (St John of God Midland Public Hospital) 

RELATED COVERAGE

Top honour for Midland’s own hero (Echo Newspaper)

Shark attack: Perth priest joins trio to save a life (The Record

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