Awards for heroism and Service
Allan Sparkes CV, OAM is one of Australia’s most highly decorated citizens. He is one of only five Australians in the past 47 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. In 2022, Allan was also one of only 10 Australians to be awarded the Queens Platinum 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. In September 2022, Allan travelled to London to represent the Cross of Valour recipients of Australia after receiving an invitation from St James Palace to take part in the Chivalry and Gallantry Procession during the funeral ceremony of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
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, changing lives.
It is this spirit of achievement that underpins Allan’s philosophy on life, and as a speaker, using his knowledge to help others take control, or in some cases, take back control of their lives. 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. His years of engagement in the Mental Health Sector, working alongside some of Australia’s most experienced psychiatrists and psychologists, Allan has developed a deep understanding of the factors that lead to his psychological demise. He has turned that understanding into a powerful and practical knowledge base that is used in his presentations that have featured nationally and internationally. Allan’s belief is simple; Education = Knowledge = Understanding = Acceptance.
Since Allan commenced his recovery, he has taken on many roles that have provided enormous benefit others. He has been an Ambassador for Beyond Blue, Soldier On, a Deputy Commissioner with the Mental Health Commission of NSW, a member of the New South Wales Mental Health Commission Suicide Prevention advisory group, a Member of the New South Wales Police Mental Health Team, the Foundation Patron of the Stay Kind Foundation and a Non Executive Director of the Gidget Foundation. Allan is currently a Kookaburra Kids Ambassador and an Australia Day Ambassador. Allan is also an internationally qualified trainer of the Canadian Mental Health Commission Training Program ‘The Working Mind for First Responders’ and ‘The Working Mind’. Allan and his colleague, renowned psychologist Dr David Said are currently delivering their bespoke training program, ‘Operational Readiness’, and his corporate presentations ‘ Endurance; Staying in the Game’.
For the past 11 years has been addressing Corporate, Private, Government and First Responder audiences across Australia. In 2020 Allan travelled to Europe to conduct presentations at the Europol Centre for Counter Terrorism and the Netherlands Police Headquarters in The Hague. The combination of his lived experiences with PTSD, suicidal ideation and Depression and the unique evidence based knowledge he has gained provide awareness, knowledge, hope motivation 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.