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 a best selling 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:
Challenge and Adventure
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.
Brigadier Paul Nothard AM,CSC, Commander 17th Combat Service Support Brigade at the Australian Army
"A colleague recommended that I contact Allan to speak at my Command Conference this year, where one of the topics we were discussing was resilience. Allan's life is the essence of resilience and his introductory speech to this topic really set the scene for the discussions the following day. Allan's story is as inspirational as it is fascinating - his soul-bearing honesty and willingness to explore a broad range of questions in the Q&A made for a fabulous presentation. Allan is an engaging, inspiring and entertaining speaker; but best of all (as I discovered at dinner that night), he's a genuinely great bloke. " Brigadier Paul Nothard AM,CSC - Commander 17th Combat Service Support Brigade - Australian Army
Ceara Fox, George P Johnson
Allan’s story is inspiring and his presentation skills and personality are warm and engaging. I especially loved the team building exercise that pushed us out of our comfort zone and reinforced the practical importance of collaboration, teamwork and communication.
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
Allan Sparkes was an absolute pleasure to work with both pre event and on the day of our event. His commitment to achieving the right outcome for the client, in this instance ASFA was second to none. I have secured hundreds of professional speakers, both locally and internationally, and I would have to say that this session with Allan Sparkes, Ciaran Gribbin and Mark Donaldson VC will be amongst my most special career moments. Likewise, the 1500 delegates will remember this presentation forever, being privileged to join Allan on this journey.
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
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.
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."
'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.'
‘Frank and compelling.’