Royal Humane Society


The Royal Humane Society - Recognising bravery

A single act of humanity becomes an inspiration

We make awards for the saving of human life and for the restoration of life by resuscitation

Foreword by HRH Princess Alexandra

2018 was a most successful year for the Society, with 846 awards made to people whose actions saved 480 lives. Some of these stories were very much in the public eye, such as the terrorist attacks on Manchester and London, but many other rescues were carried out across the United Kingdom and elsewhere by ordinary people who felt compelled to act. What stands out in all these cases is the extraordinary bravery and the selflessness displayed by such people, often with no formal training, who act instinctively when another human being is in danger. Every award tells its very own story, and we should recognise the sacrifices that many make, not just by putting themselves in danger, but also the emotional and mental strain that an ordeal can inflict on the rescued and rescuer. What this record number of awards does not reflect is the noticeable number of mental health related incidents that the Society has considered this year. A growing number of despairing individuals, increasingly young people, are deliberately placing their lives in real danger, and this is for all of us a tragedy. Unfortunately, it also means that very often those who try to help are also put at risk. Meeting these courageous, but always modest, awardees is a very uplifting experience for me and I cherish my involvement with the Society.

It remains for me to thank all of you who continue to support the Royal Humane Society in carrying out its work, and I wish the Society every success in the coming year.

Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra, the Hon Lady Ogilvy KG GCVO

Photo: Hugo Burnand

About Us

The Royal Humane Society is a charity that grants awards for acts of bravery in the saving of human life and also for the restoration of life by resuscitation.

Awards may be granted to those who have put their own lives at risk to save or attempt to save someone else. The awards granted for these acts of bravery include bronze, silver and gold medals and testimonials on vellum or parchment.

The Society was founded in London in 1774 by two eminent medical men, William Hawes and Thomas Cogan, who were keen to promote techniques of resuscitation. It became apparent that people were putting their own lives in danger rescuing others and awards were given in recognition of these acts of bravery. This remains the purpose of the society today.

Since its foundation the Royal Humane Society committee has reviewed over 88,000 cases and made well over 200,000 awards.