Allan Sparkes CV is one of only five Australian heroes to be awarded our highest bravery decoration, the Cross of Valour. He is a decorated former police officer, a sailor who has crossed the globe, a survivor of PTSD and an established author with Penguin Books.


Allan is a renowned and sought-after inspirational speaker, exclusively represented by Claxton Speakers International. He has appeared at many major corporate events throughout Australia. As a compelling storyteller, Allan will take you into a world of adrenaline, fear, achievement and redemption. His passion will leave you holding your breath and wiping your eyes – not with sadness, but with happiness, sharing in the joy of what he has achieved and how far he has come and leaving you truly inspired.



Allan can tailor his presentation for your next conference or event in consultation with you and is an expert on topics such as:






Mental Wellness


Lifestyle Awareness


Challenge and Adventure

About Allan

Awards for heroism

Allan Sparkes CV is one of only five Australians in the past 40 years to be awarded Australia's highest bravery decoration, the Cross of Valour, awarded for ‘acts of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme peril.’ In December 2012, Allan was one of only 10 Australians to be presented the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal. He is also the recipient of other significant awards for bravery, valour and service including the Royal Humane Society Galleghan Award and the New South Wales Police Commissioners Valour Award. An unfailing dedication to service Allan served for 20 years as a frontline police officer. He was involved in the horrific aftermath of the Hilton Bombing, arrested some of Australia's most notorious criminals and faced the tragedy of murdered colleagues. Allan was involved in one of the most decorated successful rescues in Australia's history, where he and his colleagues saved the life of a young child who had been swept 600 metres down a flooded stormwater pipe. In 2014, he risked his life again, jumping onto train tracks at Sydney's Redfern station to save a man who'd tumbled into the path of a train, resulting in news headlines such as, “Is this Australia's greatest hero?” (Daily Mail, 22 May 2014).

Circumnavigating life—and the globe

The effects of Allan's work caused dramatic changes in his career, his relationships and his life. Allan set about rebuilding everything that mattered to him by commencing a process of recovery—a roller coaster of successes and challenges which lasted for many years. Since his childhood, growing up in western NSW, Allan's ambition was to one day sail across the oceans of the world. Allan knew this could be the critical factor in getting his life back on course.

In March 2009, Allan, his wife and two young children left Australia and set sail from England on their yacht. Even though Allan's wife and children had no blue water sailing experience, they sailed 16,000 nautical miles (30,000 klms) back to Australia, crossing the Atlantic Ocean, through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific Ocean—an adventure of a lifetime that few realise.

Spreading the word, sharing the journey

It is this spirit of achievement that underpins Allan’s philosophy on life, and as a speaker, his messages of hope. Allan will open your hearts and minds and draw you into his unique and compelling experiences. His story is a magnificent example of turning fear into courage and failure into success.

Allan's recovery from debilitating mental illness tested his resolve for more than a decade. With the unwavering support of his wife, he faced his demons and rebuilt his mind, body and soul. Today he is a BeyondBlue Ambassador, a Soldier On Ambassador and one of 8 Australians who form the National Leadership Group of Suicide Prevention Australia. Allan also volunteers much of his own time travelling to events around Australia, telling his story about his experiences with PTSD and Depression and providing knowledge, hope and inspiration to others through his dynamic presentations.

Allan's book, 'The Cost of Bravery' was released on May 22, 2013. The forewood for the book was written by renowned Australian, Mr Ray Martin AM and is now in its second edition. Allan has appeared on national TV including 60 Minutes, Sunday Night and A Current Affair. He has also appeared on Richard Fidler's conversation hour and been interviewed on many other national radio programs.

Allan is one of only five Australians in the past 40 years to be awarded Australia's highest bravery decoration, the Cross of Valour. 



With the unwavering support of his wife, he faced his demons and rebuilt his mind, body and soul. 




Speaking Testimonials

  • Gerald Foley, Managing Director - National Mortgage Brokers

    Allan Sparkes spoke at our National Conference held on the Gold Coast in March 2015. Allan’s approach was relaxed and informal but highly engaging. He spoke openly, honestly and with sincerity. Allan held everyone’s attention from beginning to end and everyone left with the utmost respect for the man himself, and importantly the message he delivered. Allan spent plenty of time with our delegates both before and after his presentation. The feedback we’ve received since was that Allan was a wonderful choice, a brilliant and inspiring speaker. He was a delight to deal with and I’d highly recommend Allan to anyone looking for an inspirational speaker. Gerald Foley Managing Director National Mortgage Brokers

  • Nicolette Hughes, Director Conference and International Events / A.S.F.A

    Hi Allan. I wanted to thank you for being such a pleasure to work with pre event and then onsite at the lunch and thank you for your commitment to achieving the right outcome for us as the client. You were our partner in getting this luncheon right.  I have been organising events now for near 25 years and I would have to admit this Grand Finale luncheon with yourself, Ciaran Gribbin and Mark Donaldson VC will be amongst my most special career moments. Delegates will remember this “trio” forever and the long lasting words of inspiration you left these 1,500 delegates with. Congratulations and thank you.

  • Dr Tim Sharp, The Happiness Institute

    I've been lucky enough to meet many inspirational people in my work but Al would have to be close to the top of the list. If his own achievements weren't impressive and courageous enough, he now dedicates much of his time to inspiring others to achieve their own meaningful achievements. Al's story is truly amazing and his ongoing work is just so valuable. I feel honoured to know Allan Sparkes and would highly recommend him to anyone looking for a genuine, authentic story-telling speaker.

  • Russell Mason, Committee member, ASFA Conference

    Allan was one of the keynote speakers at the Grand Finale lunch. In front of 1,500 delegates, Allan told his story of heroism and resilience in a way that was incredibly moving and at the same time up-lifting and inspiring.  Allan spoke with an honesty and sincerity that had everyone in the room holding on to each word.

  • Dr Jason Pace MBBS BSc(Med) FRANZCP , Director, The Hills Clinic

    The Hills District Mental Health Week Seminar "For several years, The Hills Clinic has hosted a free community seminar during mental health week. The highlight of these seminars is typically our keynote speaker, who shares their personal experience with mental illness and can offer hope and inspiration. Over the years we have been lucky enough to have some fantastic speakers such as; John Brogden, Neil Jenman and Graeme Cowan to name a few. When Allan Sparkes was proposed as this year’s keynote speaker, few people in our organisation had heard of him or his story, but reading about his story online, it certainly seemed that he fit the bill. A week before our event, Allan generously, made himself available to meet with local newspapers to help promote the event, also allowing him to meet with our group. I was immediately impressed with his warm, relaxed and professional manner. His presentation was intimate and inspirational. Apart from two brief videos clip, no other visual aids where used but despite this, he held the 100 plus audience on every word of his story of courage, heart ache and triumph. Allan is someone who everyone in the audience could identify with. His is a natural story teller who understands how to structure a presentation and take the audience on a journey. Allan’s presentation was the pinnacle point of our 2012 seminar, receiving a standing ovation from all present. I feel privileged to have met and heard Allan story and recommend him gladly to anyone looking to inspire an audience. I look forward to reading his upcoming book and wish him all the very best in the future."

  • Michelle Aubert, Conference Manager, Coffs Coast Marketing

    Allan spoke at both my Local Government Information Technology Conference and my Local Government Executives conference. Allan's presentation was amazing - he opened up to a room of strangers about his personal life which saw his life fall apart and then went on to explain how he reinvented himself with the help of his wonderful wife and children. I found myself holding my breath and wiping my eyes at the same time. All of my delegates enjoyed Allan's presentation and I believe it was the best one on the program.Do yourselves a favor and book Allan for your next conference.

  • Scott Lovett, Director, Business Events, Tourism NT, Association of Australian Conference Bureaus Annual Conference

    In a world full of hype and hyperbole, it was great to hear a real story told straight from the heart. Al’s story full of raw emotion captivated our group and had everyone on the edge of their seats with not a dry eye in the house. Al received a standing ovation from our group of hardened conference veterans—the first I have ever seen.

  • Trudy Adams, Business Support Manager, BUPA Leadership Forum

    Allan was excellent! Very interesting and engaging and did well to tie his story back to health/leadership as was the theme of the conference. Allan’s session was rated the highest of the three days by attendees. Many delegates were personally touched by the stories.

Praise for The Cost of Bravery

  • Goodreads

    Find reviews of readers of Allan's book from Goodreads, including this 5 Star review Everyone should read this book; it’s an amazing story!  It’s gripping from the beginning, and once you start you can’t put it down. And once you’ve finished,…..you’ll never be the same again. It made me laugh, and cry, and at times although I felt paralysed with fear, I was driven to keep turning the pages and read on. There were times throughout the journey I was painfully aware at how humbling and brutally honest Allan Sparkes was in retelling this part of his life, and grateful that he shared it. I feel enriched and enlightened for having read it. It’s a truly powerful and inspirational read, and I’d love to see the Education Department take this on for all High School students as a must read.

  • Amazon Books

    Read reviews of Allan's book, the Cost of Bravery from Amazon.com, this is just an example; "The Cost of Bravery by Allan Sparkes is a must read for Law Enforcement, their families and anyone interested in policing. It is honest, powerful and has brought me tears of sadness and joy. PTSD, as with other psychological conditions, are understated battles people face made even worse if you are a police officer. His courage throughout his ordeal should be commended. His resilience and strength to overcome it should be celebrated. It gives you hope and even though I’m a civilian, it was the first time I truly did not feel alone as I battle my own demons. He has inspired me to keep fighting and to strive to achieve my goals and dreams. I cannot recommend his book enough."

  • Ballarat Courier


  • Courier-Mail

    ‘A ripper.’

  • Daily Telegraph

    'In his hard-to-put-down autobiography, Sparkes tells of the rollercoaster ride his life took from decorated cop to the depths of post traumatic stress disorder and suicidal thoughts to happy, healthy, world sailor ... Raw and confronting.'

  • Sunday Age

    ‘Frank and compelling.’



Following Allan's 'TED' style presentation at the Happiness and its Causes Conference, a panel discussion was arranged with British comedian Ruby Wax, leading psychologist Dr Tim Sharpe, Best selling author Dr Russ Harris and moderated by ABC Radio National presenter, Mr Richard Aedy. The discussion centred around recovering from adversity with each of the panellists giving their reflections on what they consider to be the most important aspects of their involvement with adversity, their recovery and resilience. [embed]https://youtu.be/BTpBjPUlaI0[/embed] Read more
Allan was invited by beyondblue to speak at the Happiness and its Causes conference in Sydney in June 2015. Allan delivered a 'TED' style talk in front of 1600 delegates, inspiring them with his story of braver, adversity and recovery. His story gives hope to those suffering from PTSD and empowers people to chase their goals in life. Read more
How far would you go out of your comfort zone to support something you feel passionate about? Dip into your wallet and maybe donate a fifty instead of a twenty? Walk 10 kilometres instead of 5? Donate a significant prize? What about stepping into a boxing ring? Not comfortable with that idea? No, nor was I when I was first approached. But on Thursday night, at North Sydney Leagues Club, that is exactly what I am doing. Why on earth would you do that I hear you ask. Fair question. Well the short answer is to raise money for New South Wales Police Legacy's largest annual fundraiser in remembrance of all NSW Police Force Officers who have died or been killed on duty. The challenge is to raise funds to continue providing essential financial assistance and social programs and experiences to the widows, widowers and dependent children of those police officers.  Good mates of mine have been killed in the line of duty and I am fighting in their memory. Good mates of mine have also taken their own lives as a result of the psychological destruction their work has caused. I am also fighting in their memory.  But I am also wearing my beyondblue ambassadors colours to show that I am prepared to walk the walk and not just talk the talk when it comes to my promotion of good physical health is critical to good mental health, not just for serving police officers but for everyone who is in a job where they are subjected to unending stress and pressure and I think just about anyone who has their own business or is employed is facing thos http://policeboxing2015.gofundraise.com.au/page/SparkesAllan Read more
It is always an exciting time with you are invited to speak at a conference. Having been fortunate to speak at many varied events over the years, there are times when something outside the box pops up. beyondblue is a sponsor of the Happiness and its Causes Conference in Sydney, being held at Luna Park over June 10 and 11 this year.  The feature speaker of the event will be His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. I was just a tad chuffed when beyondblue invited me to speak at the event in front of over 2000 delegates. Not only do I get to speak on the same day as His Holiness but I also get to take part in a panel discussion with Ruby Wax! It should be a brilliant experience and one I will look forward to telling you more about after the event. Read more

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