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Dunedin Man To Receive Award For Act Of Bravery

Dunedin Man To Receive Award For Act Of Bravery

The Mayor of Dunedin Mr Peter Chin will present the Charles Upham Award for Bravery at the Dunedin Council Chambers on Wednesday 24 November 2004 at 10.30am.

The Chairman, Col (Rtd) Lindsay Williams, OBE, MC and the Trust Board are pleased to announce the 2004 Award recipient as Mr Robert John Van Hale of Waitati, Dunedin.

The Charles Upham Award recipient is decided on by the Trust Board and is presented annually to a person who has performed an outstanding act of bravery at the risk of their own life.

Mr Robert John Van Hale's act of bravery

On 10 July 2003, Mr Van Hale displayed exceptional bravery in his attempts to rescue a fellow citizen in acute danger. At 7.25pm on State Highway 8 near Beaumount in Central Otago a vehicle attempting an overtaking manoeuvre lost control and rolled onto its roof, bursting into flames.

Pulling over his own car, My Van Hale ran to the burning vehicle and identified movement inside. Upon approaching the driver’s door he was driven back by flames so proceeded to the passenger’s door. Making four attempts, he finally managed to pull an occupant from the vehicle. By this time the person's clothing was well alight.

Mr Van Hale removed the occupant some distance from the burning vehicle and extinguished the flames of his clothing. He then administered First Aid until the arrival of the emergency services. Unfortunately the occupant had received burns to ninety percent of their body and died the following day.

Mr Van Hale had also received burns (to both hands) as a result of his efforts and although he was treated at the scene he proceeded in considerable pain and discomfort to drive himself to the Dunedin Hospital for further treatment.

The Charles Upham Award

The Charles Upham Award is for outstanding acts of bravery in peacetime in New Zealand and stems from public recognition of the gallantry of Captain Charles Hazlitt Upham, VC and Bar.

The Charles Upham Trust Board considers New Zealanders (both military and civilian), who have risked their own life and performed an outstanding act of heroism during the previous 24 months. People who may have already received another award for their heroic deed can also be nominated for consideration.

The Award is not confined to attempts to save life and may be awarded for any act of heroism where the person has risked his or her life.

The first award for bravery was made in 1981 after the initial scholarship (that was set up shortly after WWII) ran its natural course in 1976.

Captain Charles Upham is the only combat soldier to have received the Victoria Cross and Bar (awarded to members of the armed forces of the Commonwealth for exceptional bravery). A profile on Charles Upham can be found at www.nzedge.com/heroes/upham.

Further information on the Award Ceremony can be obtained from the Dunedin City Council.

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