Simon Owen had no idea when he went on his annual family holiday last year he would play a part in saving six lives.
The Raby resident was holidaying with his wife, child, parents and brother's family at Dolphin Point (Shoalhaven) in January 2018 when he heard a commotion on the beach.
From his beachfront holiday rental, Mr Owen saw the heads of several people being swept further out to see, dipping under the water.
He knew immediately that he had to help.
That reaction is what has earned the youth minister a Group Bravery Citation in the Australian Bravery Awards on Monday.
Mr Owen was one of five people who helped save the five children and adult from the treacherous sea that day.
He told the Advertiser he feared something bad was going to happen at the time.
"That morning I'd noticed the conditions weren't good and I just thought it was the kind of conditions that would lead to something bad," Mr Owen said.
"When I saw what was going on down at the beach I just grabbed my surfboard and ran out there - I thought I might be able to enter the water and help.
"But when I got closer I saw there was nowhere I could really enter the water safely."
Mr Owen said he then ran onto the nearby dangerous rocks where another helper had managed to bring a child to safety.
He helped both the child and the man out of the water, before later assisting another rescuer reach the safety of the beach.
It wasn't until some of the adrenaline had died down and emergency services arrived that Mr Owen realised he hadn't escaped the ordeal entirely unscathed.
"I was in such a rush that I ran out of the house barefoot," the 34-year-old said.
"So when I was walking on the rocks, I stepped in a rockpool and cut my foot.
"It wasn't until later that I saw I was bleeding. My parents got home and found me washing all the blood off my foot, so they took me to the hospital to get it seen to.
"I ended up with five stitches."
Mr Owen said he didn't rush to the beach that day in the hopes of receiving an award, but he is humbled to receive the citation.
"A mother of one of the children nominated us, I think it was her way of showing how thankful she was," he said.
"I never expected the nomination to make it this far, but I'm proud to accept the award."