Australia: Lifelong bond formed in jaws of shark

Aaron Willis

Aaron Willis with David Pearson (left), Rowan Cutbush and Lisa Mondy, and Nathan Visscher with Glen Folkard. Picture: Katrina Tepper Source: The Daily Telegraph

THEY are friendships born out of tragedy and terror.

Three shark attack victims - and the mates who saved them - shared a beer yesterday and told how lucky they were to still be alive.

Glen "Lenny" Folkard, Lisa Mondy and Dave Pearson each nominated the men who rescued them for Pride of Australia medals in the Outstanding Bravery category.

Mr Folkard, 45, was attacked by a 3m bull shark while surfing off Redhead Beach, Newcastle, earlier this year. Local surfer Nathan Visscher, 36, paddled in to the bloodied water, dragging him back to shore while using his leg rope as a tourniquet.

Ms Mondy, 25, was wakeboarding near Port Stephens when a 4m great white took her head and left arm in its jaws. Her best friend Rowan Cutbush, 25, fearlessly dived into the water and dragged her back to the boat.

Mr Pearson, 50, warned surfers to retreat to shore after he was attacked at Crowdy Head, Port Macquarie, but 35-year-old Aaron "Noddy" Wallis paddled over to his mate and helped him catch a wave back to the beach.

None of the finalists were awarded the medal but their stories highlight the spirit of the awards; that humanity is alive and well.

Actress Susie Porter presented the bravery medal and was joined at the ceremony at Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art by guests including singer Claire Bowditch, Premier Barry O'Farrell, Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione, new NSW State of Origin coach Laurie Daley and actress Jodi Gordon.

Yesterday, the shark survivors told how they have formed their own "club" and each of them wears a shirt emblazoned with the words "Shark Bait".

They even plan on getting tattoos, which Mr Folkard, a tattoo artist, is designing.

"Dave is like the president, he gets in touch with victims to offer his support and sends everyone who gets the chomp a shirt," Mr Folkard said.

"And Lisa is the pin-up girl," Mr Pearson added.

Jokes aside, these brave individuals formed a bond like no other and accompanied each other on their first swim since the attacks.

"They're shark attack survivors too," Mr Folkard said of the three medal finalists.

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