After avoiding the spotlight for over a year, reluctant hero Tony Holt was honoured to be the recipient of the Royal Humane Society Silver Medal for Bravery on Friday (28 May 2010), for saving a mother and child from a burning car last year.
Tony, a Taupo District Council employee, was travelling along Whangamata Rd, Taupo in March last year when a car swerved in front of him, narrowly missing his, then crashed and rolled down a bank, landing upside down and catching fire. The driver of the car, Emma Kerr, and her 4 year old daughter Ryleigh were trapped in the burning wreckage. Tony went to the pair’s aid, freeing them just moments before it was engulfed in flames, saving their lives.
Both mother and daughter were present at the ceremony; alongside a large contingent of Tony’s family, friends and co-workers as Tony was presented the Silver Medal for Bravery from His Excellency the Governor General Sir Anand Staynand.
The Governor General congratulated Tony for his actions, saying that bravery is, in essence, the product of courage. “As described best by author C.S. Lewis: ‘Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at its testing point’, and Tony you have shown that at your point of testing you showed true courage.”
Mayor of Taupo District Rick Cooper was elated to have not only a resident of Taupo being awarded, but also an employee. “On such an auspicious occasion I’m very proud to be the Mayor of a district of people that truly care for one another. Taupo always punches above its weight, and this is no different.”
Judge Neil Hattaway, President of the Royal Humane Society of New Zealand, commented that having Emma and Ryleigh present at the ceremony was a poignant reminder that without Tony’s brave actions they would not be here today.
The Royal Humane Society of New Zealand was established in 1898 to recognise brave civilians (non-military persons) who risked their lives in peacetime. Nowadays the role of the Society is to recognise those that have, in dangerous circumstances, saved, or attempted to save the lives of others, sometimes at the cost of their own life in their act of bravery.