Helping is just part of Charles' nature

Australia Day ambassador Brian Beesley presented Charles Tonks with the Young Citizen of the Year award at the Gloucester celebration.
Australia Day ambassador Brian Beesley presented Charles Tonks with the Young Citizen of the Year award at the Gloucester celebration.

When Charles Tonks found out he had been nominated for Gloucester Young Citizen of the Year, the 16-year-old was shocked.

"I wasn't expecting it in the slightest. I didn't think I'd done as much in the community as others," Charles said.

For Charles, offering to help out is just a natural thing for him to do.

"I didn't recognise that what I was doing was that great. It was just the right thing to do... to help out," he smiled. "People really appreciate the help and I really appreciate what they do."

Charles made the nomination list due to his continual help on the soccer pitch and at the swimming pool. He really values the opportunity to play sport in Gloucester and wants to do what he can to see it thrive.

When it comes to his love of soccer, it started at a young age, joining the Gloucester Soccer Club just as soon as he was old enough. And he hasn't stopped since. The continued success of the local competition is so important that he opted out of playing for a representative team to ensure there was enough players to keep division one going.

Not only does he play, but last year he took up refereeing. He helps out with the division two and three games and helps set up each Saturday. It's his way of giving a little back to the club.

"They do so much. It's amazing how much people give," Charles said. "It's such a great team sport and a great community."

But soccer is just his winter sport. In the summer, he pours all of his energy into the pool.

"I love to swim," he smiled.

Brian Beesley presents Charles Tonks with his pin.

Brian Beesley presents Charles Tonks with his pin.

And he's been doing it his whole life and is a members of the Thunderbolts Swimming Club. It's another place he noticed how hard people were working and soon put his hand up to help out.

Early last year, he undertook his Bronze Medallion in order to become a lifeguard, something he'd been wanting to do since he was little.

"I always knew about them (the pool lifeguards) and I wanted to work toward that," Charles said.

After completing his qualifications, he landed a job at the Gloucester Swimming Pool as a lifeguard's assistant, working alongside his mentors.

Part of being a lifeguard is knowing first aid. Understanding the tool of the trades was something he was already familiar with. His dad, a firefighter with local brigade, taught about the equipment and three years ago he took a children's basic first aid course at the Bucketts Way Neighbourhood Group. With his Bronze Medallion, he became officially qualified.

In November 2020, Charles put his first aid knowledge to the test while paddling down the Barrington River. He came across an older gentlemen sitting at the side of the river after he had fallen out of his kayak for the third time. The water was quite cold and the man was shivering.

"He looked in a bad way," Charles recalled. "I paddled over to ask what he needed."

After retrieving some towels, he got his mother to bring her car down to the river and helped bring the man to a nearby lodge. The man was put in a warm shower, given a chocolate bar and the ambulance was called.

The whole affair didn't worry Charles in the slightest.

"I knew what I was doing. I was very confident," he said.

Although, he does admit he's had a fair bit of experience dealing with emergencies.

When BMX riding with his mates, there tends to be a few accidents.