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Grant Nigel Kirkland (1975 - )

The Order of Mendi for Bravery in

Grant Nigel Kirkland (1975 - ) Awarded for:
Selflessly risking his life to save a fellow surfer.

Profile of Grant Nigel Kirkland

At about 14:00 hours on 4 April 2004, a 28-year-old information technology practitioner named Grant Kirkland was surfing at Muizenberg, near Cape Town, enjoying a fine late summer's day which had drawn a large number of surfers and swimmers to the beach.

Kirkland had just surfed a wave to the beach and was paddling his board back towards the breaker-line when two youths dashed past him on their surfboards, shouting “Shark! Shark!’

As Kirkland later discovered, a Great White shark with an estimated length of five metres had attacked John-Paul Andrew, a 16-year-old schoolboy from nearby Lakeside. Andrew had been waiting for a wave when the shark knocked him off his surfboard and bit his right leg completely off.

At first Kirkland, an experienced surfer thought that the youths were joking, but then instinctively realised that something was wrong and paddled through the breakers to investigate. Andrew's board was drifting free, and the water all around him was red with blood.

Kirkland paddled up to Andrew, who managed to say that a shark had attacked him before losing consciousness as a result of shock and massive blood loss. Kirkland dragged the unconscious Andrew on to his surfboard and then began to paddle back towards the shore, acutely aware of the fact that his own legs were dangling in the water on either side of the surfboard. Moreover, he had no idea of the shark's whereabouts.

Assisted by another surfer who joined him at the breaker-line, Kirkland continued to paddle until the water was shallow enough for him to stand. He then pushed the surfboard to the water's edge, where lifeguards were standing by to take charge of the injured boy.

Kirkland suspected that Andrew would die as a result of the extensive haemorrhaging from his severed leg, but paramedics were able to keep him alive during the ambulance's dash to hospital, although at one stage he had no perceptible pulse. Andrew subsequently made a full recovery.

Without Kirkland 's intervention, Andrew would certainly have died from blood loss, drowning or possibly a second attack by the shark. In conquering his own fear to go to the rescue of a total stranger, clearly aware of the extreme danger involved and knowing that if the shark were still in the vicinity he would have no way of evading a second attack, or of protecting either Andrew or himself, Grant Kirkland acted with a degree of courage which brings honour to himself, his family and the entire country.