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Man who wrestled shark away from kids fired

australia sick leave bravery lifeguards

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#1 Hum

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 23:26

The footage of Paul Marshallsea grabbing the shark's tail as it swam towards paddling children was broadcast around the world and he was hailed a hero.

But as a result he is facing a life on benefits in one of the country's worst unemployment blackspots in of Merthyr Tydfil, in the South Wales valleys.

He and his wife Wendy, who work for the same children’s charity, were on sick leave for work-related stress when they took the two month holiday in Australia.

After seeing January's footage charity trustees decided that the couple had been dishonest and sacked them.

The dismissal letter said: "Whilst unfit to work you were well enough to travel to Australia and, according to recent news footage of yourself in Queensland, you allegedly grabbed a shark by the tail and narrowly missed being bitten by quickly jumping out of the way.”

The photographs and video caused a “breakdown of the trustees' confidence and trust in you and your ability to perform” which was so great that dismissal was the only option, the letter said.

"What am I going to do now? There's not much call for shark-wrestlers in Merthyr Tydfil," the 62-year-old asked.

They found the letter, dismissing them "with immediate effect”, waiting from them when they returned from their holiday.

The father-of-three and his 56-year-old wife were given extended sick leave by the Pant and Dowlais Boys and Girls Club, where they had worked for 10 years.

The pair used the leave to visit friends in Australia and were having a barbecue on Bulcock beach when a fin was spotted in the water.

After hearing cries Mr Marshallsea ran into the waves, grabbed the 6ft-long dusky whaler shark and lead it out into deep water away from the children who were playing in the shallows.

A TV crew filming nearby captured the rescue and the images were beamed around the world, making Mr Marshallsea a national hero in Australia where lifeguards praised his bravery.

But now Mr Marshallsea, the charity's project co-ordinator, said he is disgusted that the film has been used as evidence to get him sacked.

He said: "If I hadn't gone in to save the kids on that beach that day my wife and I would still have a job.

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#2 Praetor

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 23:31

He said: "If I hadn't gone in to save the kids on that beach that day my wife and I would still have a job.


err, no he won't because he was fired for being dishonest (taking a trip while on a sick leave?).

#3 spenser.d

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 23:43

err, no he won't because he was fired for being dishonest (taking a trip while on a sick leave?).


Yeah, "sick leave for work-related stress". I believe that's called vacation...

#4 count0nz

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 23:47

I Agree And the DR ordered them to take a Vacation basicly ...

Was on Sick leav to Relive Stree not beclose he was Sick with the Flu / Broken Leg or something.

#5 Roger H.

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 23:54

Do people actually use sick days when they are sick? LOL Sick days gets used for "tired as hell cuz I partied too much last night, nahhh... not going to work today" days. LOL

#6 Praetor

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 23:56

I Agree And the DR ordered them to take a Vacation basicly ...

Was on Sick leav to Relive Stree not beclose he was Sick with the Flu / Broken Leg or something.


still it's a sick leave; in my country a person who's in a sick leave can only leave the house in a specific schedule; there's also surprise visits from work inspectors to check if the person is not cheating the leave; if caught then they can be justifiable fired.

if they wanted to rest from stress and had no vacations left then a no pay leave is enough.

#7 theyarecomingforyou

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 00:00

Unless a holiday abroad was specifically approved as a treatment for work-related stress then it's only right that they were fired. It's also worth pointing out that wrestling a shark cannot be less stressful than staying at home.

#8 Rippleman

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 00:03

I am too lazy to dig deeper, but I am willing to bet it was an insurance fraud type thing.

#9 Louisifer

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 00:06

I find it funny that a Children's Charity fired him for.. helping children..

Unless a holiday abroad was specifically approved as a treatment for work-related stress then it's only right that they were fired. It's also worth pointing out that wrestling a shark cannot be less stressful than staying at home.


Depends how you look at it, after fighting a shark and winning I think the normal stresses of life wouldn't seem so bad :p

#10 astropheed

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 00:11

No good deed goes unpunished.

I wonder though, in what way do they propose that you relieve stress during your 'stress leave', if the repercussion of doing something to relieve it can cost you your Job. If he was taking sick leave, I'd understand; but stress leave should be used to de-stress which would imply a vacation or whatever means to de-stress. Certainly not worrying as to whether you have your Job when you are done de-stressing. This seems like backwards logic.

On that note though, there could possibly be some level of injustice done that I'm misunderstanding.

#11 theyarecomingforyou

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 00:15

I find it funny that a Children's Charity fired him for.. helping children..


No, they were fired because they were dishonest. It's really not difficult to understand.

I wonder though, in what way do they propose that you relieve stress during your 'stress leave', if the repercussion of doing something to relieve it can cost you your Job. If he was taking sick leave, I'd understand; but stress leave should be used to de-stress which would imply a vacation or whatever means to de-stress.


If I was on sick leave for stress then I'd make sure to get permission from the doctor and employer beforehand. I wouldn't simply book a holiday to Australia for two months. It's common sense.

#12 Growled

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 00:18

Do people actually use sick days when they are sick? LOL Sick days gets used for "tired as hell cuz I partied too much last night, nahhh... not going to work today" days. LOL


Exactly. The organization that fired them are basically being scum buckets.

#13 Praetor

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 00:22

No, they were fired because they were dishonest. It's really not difficult to understand.



If I was on sick leave for stress then I'd make sure to get permission from the doctor and employer beforehand. I wouldn't simply book a holiday to Australia for two months. It's common sense.


this. nuff said, close thread, move on. :)

#14 +_Alexander

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 00:27

Vacation is great stress relief.

#15 theyarecomingforyou

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 00:42

Vacation is great stress relief.


Shark wrestling isn't.