Awards for heroism
Allan Sparkes CV, OAM is one of Australia's most highly decorated citizens. He is one of only five Australians in the past 41 years to be awarded Australia's highest bravery decoration and highest civil award, the Cross of Valour, awarded for ‘acts of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme peril' for his part in the rescue of a small boy who had been washed 600 metres down a flooded storm water pipe at Coffs Harbour in May 1996. In January 2017, Allan was named in the Australia Day Honours List and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to mental health support organisations and the community. In August 2016, Allan was awarded Australia's fourth highest bravery decoration, the Commendation for Brave Conduct, for saving the life of a an aboriginal man who had fallen onto train tracks at Redfern Railway Station. 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.
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 Allan is a Deputy Commissioner with the Mental Health Commission of NSW. He is also a BeyondBlue Ambassador, a Soldier On Ambassador, a Kookaburra Kids Ambassador and an Australia Day Ambassador. He is also a member of the Mental Health Commission of New South Wales Suicide Prevention Advisory Group and a member of the NSW Police Mental Health Intervention Team. Allan volunteers much of his own time travelling to events around Australia, telling his story about his experiences with PTSD, suicide 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 and reprinted in January 2015. The forword 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 41 years to be awarded Australia's highest bravery decoration, the Cross of Valour. He is the only Australian to receive the Cross of Valour and a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) and a subsequent Australian Bravery Decoration, The Commendation for Brave Conduct.
With the unwavering support of his wife and children, he faced his demons and rebuilt his mind, body and soul.