Hero Stephen Dick's final 'act of love' as family accepts donation that will save lives in the Hunter

TRIBUTE: Marianne Bonnay (second from left) with Brett Carr, Brian Wilcox, Georgia O'Sullivan and Riley Lowe on Thursday. Picture: Marina Neil
TRIBUTE: Marianne Bonnay (second from left) with Brett Carr, Brian Wilcox, Georgia O'Sullivan and Riley Lowe on Thursday. Picture: Marina Neil

THE day Marianne Bonnay’s husband died is “imprinted” in her memory.

It is something that won’t go away – the Garden Suburb woman thinks about it every day: how a seemingly calm ocean took a loving father of six away from their children, an ocean which robbed her children of having their dad with them at important life events like graduations.

Those were Dr Bonnay’s reflections more than a year after husband Stephen Dick, 53, tragically drowned on Boomerang Beach near Forster on April 12, after rescuing teenage son Jacque from a rip only to find himself in trouble.

Dr Bonnay accepted an inscripted rescue board, which will be donated to Hunter Surf Life Saving and used by volunteers this summer, all funded by the Warners Bay High School community.

The board was presented at son Louy’s year 12 graduation.

Speaking to the Newcastle Herald after the presentation, Dr Bonnay described her husband as a good man “who did a selfless act of love to save his children, to save his family”.

“I think that’s what we have to remember,” she said.

HERO: Stephen Dick, of Garden Suburb, died in April last year saving his son Jacque from a rip on Boomerang Beach near Forster.

HERO: Stephen Dick, of Garden Suburb, died in April last year saving his son Jacque from a rip on Boomerang Beach near Forster.

“He was a good man and then the unexpected happened: the ocean was bad and there was nobody on the beach.

“It was a combination of bad circumstances.”

Mr Dick managed to rescue Jacque but could not save himself.

The ocean, Dr Bonnay said, was calm and they were only swimming in knee-deep water.

Jacque was slowly pushed back to shore but Mr Dick succumbed to the exhaustion and drowned.

“We don’t want any family to go through what we are still going through,” Dr Bonnay said.

“It’s imprinted in my memory. I think about it every day. All the time.”

Dr Bonnay said education about the dangers of the ocean, as well as having a strong lifesaving service, was vitally important for all Australians.

“My message would be: get educated,” she said. “If we understand the ocean better, it will save a lot more lives.”

She added that the donation of the rescue board would help save lives during this year’s surf lifesaving season. Earlier this month, Mr Dick was posthumously awarded the Australian Bravery Decoration by the Governer-General of Australia, Sir Peter Cosgrove.