Thanks for gift of life

Left to right: Lifeguards James Cervi, John Jones, survivors Bill McLelland and Gavin Garps, ambos Annette Morris, Damien Storywood. Photos Rob Maccoll.

By Phil Jarratt

It was a reunion a couple of first responders thought would never happen. But for the two surfers who recently survived brushes with death, it was an emotion-charged meeting.

Gavin Garps and Bill McLelland, both 67, are well-known local surfers who would have caught their final waves earlier this year after suffering cardiac arrest in the water, had it not been for the quick action and the expertise of the lifeguards and ambulance officers who saved them. Last week at Main Beach Noosa they were reunited while the cameras rolled for the Sunrise program. But it was away from the cameras that the real emotion came out, as Gav, Bill and their grateful partners met and thanked lifeguards James Cervi and John Jones and ambulance officers Annette Morris and Damien Storywood.

John, who dragged Bill to shore and applied a defibrillator to bring his heart beat back, said: “It was a pretty close thing. I’m just glad we were successful.”

Meanwhile, the Noosa World Surfing Reserve’s Adopt a Defib program has been gaining traction, with several businesses and individuals offering assistance, while Noosa Heads Surf Club is planning to add several more defib stations to its stock. If you would like to help this important community campaign, email