The Gold Medal - or Stanhope Medal - is the Royal Humane Society's most prestigious award.
It is presented annually to an existing medal winner nominated by the following humane societies:
The first medal was awarded to Captain Matthew Webb in 1873.
He had attempted to rescue a sailor who'd fallen from the rigging of a ship into the Atlantic Ocean. Webb swam for more than half-an-hour but found only the young man's cap.
Two years later, Webb would become the first person to swim the English Channel.
The medal is named after a 19th century aristocrat, Chandos Scudamore Scudamore Stanhope, who died of smallpox at the age of 48. His friends set up a fund to perpetuate his memory.
For more on the history of the Stanhope medal please Click Here.
The Police Medal
The Police Medal was introduced in 2000 to honour the most outstanding act of heroism by a police officer during the preceding year.
It is made of silver gilt and is awarded every January. The winner is chosen by the Committee from among the previous year's award-winners.
The Silver Medal dates back to 1775 and is the Society's oldest award.
The Committee judges each case on its merits. The Silver Medal has been awarded to people who have;
- put themselves in extreme personal danger
- carried out a very long and arduous rescue
- returned repeatedly to a highly dangerous situation
It is the highest honour that the Society can bestow. This is accompanied by a Certificate signed by the Society's President, HRH Princess Alexandra.
Only a small number of Silver Medals is awarded each year - though there is no upper limit.
The Royal Humane Society Bronze Medal was introduced in 1837.
It is awarded to people who have put their own lives at great risk to save or attempt to save someone else.
It is accompanied by a Certificate signed by the Society's President, HRH Princess Alexandra.
If you are researching an ancestor's medal, please go to the Lifesaving Awards Research Society web site where there is a complete list of our Bronze Medal Awards from 1837-2000.
Testimonial on Vellum
The Testimonial on Vellum is awarded where someone has put themselves in considerable danger to save, or attempt to save, someone else.
Although we've kept the historical name of the award, these days it is no longer made of vellum but of good quality card. It is A3 in size.
Each one is signed by the Society's President, HRH Princess.
In Memoriam Testimonials
An In Memoriam Testimonial is awarded where someone has lost their own life in the attempt to save someone else. These are rare events but each year we do make a number of posthumous awards.
Where possible, the Testimonial is presented to the next-of-kin.
Testimonial on Parchment
The Testimonial on Parchment is awarded where someone has put themselves in danger to save, or attempt to save, someone else.
Many of the awards go to people who have swum to the rescue of someone else - in a quarry, a lake, a river or at sea.
Although we've kept the historical name of the award, these days it is no longer made of parchment but of good quality card. It is A3 in size
Certificate of Commendation
For consideration for a Certificate of Commendation, the nominee(s) must have made a significant contribution to the saving or attempted saving of a life, though their own life was not necessarily at risk.
Examples of the type of situation for which this award can be granted are:
- staying with an injured person until medical help arrives
- talking to an injured person to try to keep them conscious
- giving assistance to paramedics at the scene of an accident
- in the case of a child, asking an adult for help
This Certificate is awarded to people who have effected a successful resuscitation of someone, who was at one stage 'seemingly dead', through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation (MMR) and/or heart-and-lung massage (CPR).
This award is not given to medically trained medical staff (i.e. doctors, nurses, paramedics) or in cases where resuscitation fails
There is no requirement for the life-saver to be in any kind of danger to be eligible for this award.
The Certificate is A4 in size and is signed by the Chairman and Secretary.