14-Year-Old Saves Brother on Nice on the ‘Net Saturday

Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 23191 – 1148

Here’s the Haps:

I had never heard of either the Mountbatten Award or the Royal Lifesaving Society Commonwealth but I learned about them both recently. The RLSS, as they refer to themselves, are committed to a mission to teach lifesaving skills, survival swimming, and drowning prevention. Apparently, they taught Kalya Kandegoda Gamage the right things.

Thirteen-year-old (at the time) Kalya was walking along a rugged stretch of beach called Chrystalls Beach in a remote area on the South Island of New Zealand with his 11-year-old brother, Kithmi, and their mom. They were unfamiliar with the terrain and conditions. A nine-foot(3-meter) wave swept Kithmi off his feet and pulled him out into the ocean current. Both boys are strong swimmers but the waves kept pulling him further out while all he could do was tread water. He was going further and further out and by the time he was almost 200 feet (60 meters) Kalya made a decision.

“Ok, mum. I’m going out. I might not be back.” He took off his coat and shoes and dove in. He told the New Zealand Herald, “He tried to grab me, then I pushed him, then I told him to grab my shoulders and my shirt. So we went to the shore safely.” Emergency personnel had already been summoned, including a rescue helicopter, but Kalya had already done what needed to be done.

A local police officer was quoted as saying, “No one survives in that stretch of water, it is notoriously dangerous.”

The Mountbatten Award is only given to one person in the 56 countries of the Commonwealth, 2 billion people, every year.

You can read the account here and on his school’s website.


  1. What a brave boy. He deserves the award for his good deed. I have heard incidents of drowning in seas, which can be dangerous even if it is a good clear day.

  2. Wow, that was really something! I can only imagine the mother’s anguish as she looked on – could she lose one boy or both? How wonderful that the actual answer was none of the above.

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