A NSW police officer who died trying to save a young woman while canyoning has been awarded the Commissioner’s Valour Award for bravery at her funeral.
Senior Constable Kelly Foster, 39, died on January 2 in the Blue Mountains, after being caught up when attempting to rescue another canyoner from a whirlpool at Mount Wilson.
The canyoner, 24-year-old software engineer Jennifer Qi, also died.
NSW Police Force Commissioner Mick Fuller conferred the posthumous honour on Sen Const Foster on Thursday afternoon at her funeral at Lithgow Uniting Church, where he delivered a valedictory.
“(Kelly) was very much a shining example of an officer who truly upheld our policing traditions of professionalism, commitment, honour and courage,” he said.
“It was these exact traits that Senior Constable Foster will be forever remembered; when she selflessly put herself in danger to rescue and save another. Her heroism, exceptional bravery and sacrifice is beyond question.”
Her family remembered her as tough but selfless.
“This was true throughout her life, from her earliest role as a protective big sister, to her early career as a teacher, and later as a police officer,” the family said in a statement on Thursday.
“She overcame the challenges in her life with grit and resilience and did so with a smile that lit up her whole face – and every room she entered, a sparkle in her eye and a laugh that was infectious.”
Sen Const Foster and Ms Qi were brought together by a love of the outdoors, the family said.
After the church service for family, friends and colleagues, a funeral procession and marching escort travelled along one of the Blue Mountains town’s main roads.
Fellow police officers carried her coffin, which was draped with an Australian flag, into the church.
Sen Const Foster had served in the police force since 2010 and was highly regarded. She was first stationed in Newtown in Sydney’s inner west and most recently worked at Lithgow Police Station.
She moved to the Blue Mountains after time as an intelligence analyst in Sydney to return to grassroots policing and pursue her love of outdoor adventure.
Her family thanked the community for its sympathy, and extended their own sympathy to Ms Qi’s family and friends.
They also thanked first responders and the NSW Police Force for their support.
Members of the community who wish to show their support should donate to Police Legacy in lieu of flowers, the family stated.