Tributes flood in for hero mum who ‘sacrificed herself’ after racing into a dangerous rip to save her 10-year-old son – as pals reveal the heartbreaking reason they were on holiday
- Leonie Jackson, 50, died on Sunday after rescuing son from rip in Congo Beach
- She was in the popular holiday area to celebrate her 50th birthday with family
- Witnesses pulled pair from water and did CPR but the mum couldn’t be saved
- Tributes have poured in for the mother-of-two and pioneer of deaf community
- Ms Jackson had become the first ever deaf CEO for the Deaf Society in 2015
A heroic mother who tragically died after she raced into a dangerous rip to save her son has been remembered by friends and family, as it’s revealed she was on the trip to celebrate her 50th birthday.
Leonie Jackson drowned after she dove into the water at Congo Beach, on New South Wales‘ South Coast to rescue her ten-year-old son around 4.30pm on Sunday.
The remote beach is not patrolled and is known for dangerous rips and huge drops in sand levels.
Tributes have since poured in for the mother-of-two who was the first deaf person to become the CEO of the Deaf Society and who spent years working for charities that focused on hearing impairments.
Emma Watkins, known for her role in The Wiggles, wrote: ‘Just so sad. Leonie you have been an inspiration to so many. Thinking of Leonie’s family and especially her two beautiful boys’.
Leonie Jackson, 50, (pictured, left) drowned after she dove into the water at Congo Beach, on New South Wales’ South Coast to save her ten-year-old son around 4.30pm on Sunday
Ms Jackson and her family had travelled from Surry Hills to the south coast to celebrate her 50th birthday, which was on Saturday.
A surfer had spotted the mother and her son struggling in the water on Sunday afternoon and ran to help them.
Witnesses pulled the pair onto the shore and started performing CPR until paramedics arrived. Her son was not injured but Ms Jackson was unable to be saved.
The mother had worked as the Executive Manager, Advocacy and Strategic Partnerships for the Deaf Society since being named the CEO in 2015.
Tributes have since poured in for Ms Jackson who is being remembered as a pioneer for the deaf community
Congo Beach on the New South Wales south coast (pictured) is a popular holiday spot but NSW Surf Life Saving warns the beach is not patrolled and has persistent rips
Friend and former colleague Tony Abrahams, Ai-Media Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, told the Daily Telegraph: ‘Leonie was one of my very closest friends.
‘Her heroic sacrifice – diving into a rip to save her son just one day after celebrating her 50th birthday – is a tragedy beyond words and speaks to the character of a woman and a leader whose life was lived in service to others.
‘I am heartbroken, and I know Leonie will be terribly missed by the many thousands of lives she touched, who remember her energy, passion, talent and amazing sense of humour.’
Hundreds of others also shared their condolences for the loving mother on Facebook.
Tributes have since poured in for the mother-of-two who was the first deaf person to become the CEO of the Deaf Society and spent years working for charities that focused on hearing impairments
CEO of Deaf Services and the Deaf Society, Brett Casey, said the news of her death had devastated the deaf community.
‘This has come as a shock to the whole community. To many of us, myself included, Leonie was far more than a colleague, her passing is an incredible loss to our organisation, the Deaf community, and the Australian disability sector at large,’ he said.
‘Australia’s Deaf community would look very different today if not for the passionate work of Leonie Jackson. Deaf Services and the Deaf Society will not be the same without her, and neither will many of our lives, or those of the community we serve.
‘The thoughts of all staff are with Leonie’s family during this difficult time – especially her two boys, who were her pride and joy.’
‘Leonie was a true leader, a community engager, and a fantastic mother of two amazing boys. Her advocacy and work in the deafness sector in NSW and Australia have impacted millions of Australians,’ CEO of Hear for You David Brady wrote.
Ms Jackson was the third person in NSW to die while trying to rescue another from a rip this year.