Surf Live Saving makes drone dream come true

Bevan Lyons is lucky to be alive. He suffers from a rare respiratory disease and his doctors told him that he wouldn’t live past last Christmas. A year later, he’s proven the experts wrong and thanks to Surf Life Saving NSW, last Sunday Bevan’s dream of becoming a drone pilot and surf lifesaver became reality.​

Bevan, who is 67 and undergoing palliative care, wanted nothing more than to join surf lifesavers on active patrol duties as a Westpac Life Saver Rescue Drone pilot. Surf Life Saving NSW (SLSNSW) was only too happy to grant Bevan his wish by putting him through the drone pilot training program.

Last Sunday Bevan donned the iconic red and yellow patrol uniform and reported for his first Westpac Life Saver Rescue Drone patrol duty on Mona Vale beach. He was joined by other members of the UAV team who are among the 350 pilots who patrol the NSW coastline.

Surf Life Saving drone pilots conduct coastal surveillance, monitor surf conditions, spot marine species and assist with search and rescue operations.

Although Bevan’s condition limits his physical activity, he can easily operate a drone and is determined to ‘give something back to the community’ by becoming a surf lifesaver.

Bevan, who is a member of Manly Life Saving Club, is rostered on active patrol duty as a surf lifesaver on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

“It’s fantastic. The course was just magic. They gave me so many tips that make it easier to fly drones,” said Bevan Lyons.

“If I can help someone I can. I’ve got so many people helping me, I just want to give my time to help others.

“These guys go out and save people. I can help make their job easier,” said Bevan.

Like traditional surf lifesavers, drone pilots are rostered on for volunteer patrols several times during the summer season.

Bevan’s wife Sylvia was there to see Bevan take the controls of the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Drone for his first patrol. She spoke about his passion and determination.

“He doesn’t have the capacity to do a lot of physical exercise or anything like that,” said Sylvia Lyons.

“He keeps his brain active and he decided to get a drone.

“He’s reached this point which allows him to do a lot of things that can be beneficial to the community,” said Sylvia.

Surf Life Saving NSW UAV Coordinator Paul Hardy, who organised Bevan’s training, said the SLSNSW UAV training program was attracting people from diverse backgrounds.

“Surf Life Saving’s partnership with Westpac offers people a unique opportunity to become a surf lifesaver. We want to be as inclusive as possible and offer people the chance to participate and help save lives, even if they are unable to perform rescues in the surf,” said Paul Hardy.

Surf Life Saving NSW congratulates Bevan Lyons on achieving his drone pilot’s licence and looks forward to him contributing to saving lives through the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Drone program.