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Neil John Sharrocks

The Order of Mendi for Bravery in

Neil John Sharrocks Awarded for:
Displaying an act of bravery by putting his life at risk to save the lives of 44 children who were at the risk of drowning when the bus they were travelling in capsized and fell into a river.
Profile of Neil John Sharrocks

Neil John Sharrocks was born on 19 April 1966 in Wellington, New Zealand. His parents relocated to South Africa when he was nine years old.

When Sharrocks went to drop off his workers at Rheenendal, on the outskirts of Knysna, on that dreadful day in August 2011, little did he know that his selfless and speedy response, which could have led to the loss of his own life, would save the lives of more than 40 schoolchildren who were on the verge of drowning after the bus in which they had been travelling capsized.

Sharrocks demonstrated an act of bravery when he arrived at the scene of an accident and saved the lives of 44 pupils in a bus accident that claimed the lives of 14 schoolchildren. The 32-seater African Express bus, contracted by the Western Cape Department of Education to transport children from the surrounding forestry areas to the Rheenendal Primary School, had rolled backwards down the hill and into the Kasatdrift River, about 18 km outside Knysna.

This honourable man, despite the danger of drowning, laid his life on the line and rushed into the icy swollen river to save the pupils who were trying desperately to get out of the sinking bus.

Sharrocks spent 45 minutes pulling the children ashore, some with their bags still on their backs, as the bus sank into the murky water. He was pulling children out of the window, when another man and a woman came to assist.

He afterwards said that he was no hero and that it was just his instincts as a father that took over and that the adrenalin gave him strength to get the children out.