Royal Humane Society


Investiture Ceremony, Haberdashers’ Hall 4 December 2018

This was our final medal ceremony for 2018 against a backdrop of increased investiture activity caused by the 2017 Westminster and London Bridge terrorist attacks resulting in some 15 medal and testimonial awards over and above our normal annual allocation.

The Society has a long standing and very close relationship with the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers’, whose stunning Hall at West Smithfield, London, has been the venue for our Annual General Court for many years. The Master and Wardens again very kindly extended their hospitality to the Society for the purpose of this private investiture.

The ceremony, in the presence of the Master, was hosted by the Chairman RHS assisted by five Trustees, the Society’s Secretary and Assistant Secretary, and with our Police Advisor, Commissioner Ian Dyson of the City of London Police as Guest of Honour. After a brief welcome and introduction by the Chairman, Commissioner Dyson gave a short but very moving talk on the bravery demonstrated by the awardees and the unique aspects of their conduct that made them so worthy of Royal Humane Society Awards.

The citations, abbreviated versions of which are shown below, were read out by the Secretary, after which to loud applause the recipients received their awards from the Commissioner.

  • Mrs Cheryl James (Bronze Medal), an ex-army officer and now programme manager with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, for saving a pregnant friend from being hit by an out of control motor cycle, as a result of which she herself received serious injuries.
  • Prison Officer Derek Walker (Bronze Medal), an ex-soldier and security consultant, for saving the life of a prisoner under knife attack by a fellow prisoner. He dragged the wounded man to safety and returned to confront the attacker in the process of which he was himself badly injured, requiring hospital treatment.
  • Prison Officer Ross Sandford (Testimonial on Vellum), a senior officer on the Prison Service, for assisting Derek (see above) by providing protection whilst the attacker was disarmed.
  • Mr Tony Laynes (Bronze Medal), not present to receive the award, for persisting in spite of fire and smoke inhalation in rescuing three persons from a burning car following a head on collision, and attempting to rescue a fourth only to be driven back by the heat.
  • Mr Gary Parker (Testimonial on Vellum), an ex-police officer, for assisting Tony Laynes (see above) by pulling out one of the survivors through the rear window. A fifth passenger died in the car and one of the four rescued died later of his injuries.
  • Mr David Burgess (Bronze Medal), a marketing manager for a Social/Health Care Recruitment Company, for stepping in between a man standing outside his grocer’s shop under attack by another man armed with two knives and calmly asking the assailant, later found to be suffering from Schizophrenia, to stop the attack.
  • Police Constable William Gerard Shaw (Bronze Medal), a career police officer, for assisting Mr Steven Moore (Bronze Medal - not present), in disarming a man who had attacked his ex-wife with stab wounds to the head and neck. The attacker had then turned his attention to Steven who had gone to her aid. They both pulled the attacker off the woman, forcing the knife from him and holding him on the ground until police arrived.

Upon the conclusion of the awards ceremony the awardees and their guests enjoyed tea and refreshments and had an opportunity to talk to Commissioner Dyson and the Officers of the Royal Humane Society who were present.

This award ceremony reminded us all of the extraordinarily humbling people whom we get to meet, who by their own self-sacrifice and bravery save the lives of others. We know that celebrating their bravery can also help with the post-traumatic stress which affects some of our heroes, one of whom recently sent us the following On a personal note, the award ceremony proved to be extremely therapeutic.  Reminding me in such a way that there was a very positive outcome to my actions has helped my mental healing process enormously’.

RHS Birdwood Lecture 2018 – Press Release

The Chairman and Trustees of the Royal Humane Society were delighted to present the inaugural Birdwood Lecture on Tuesday 16th October. This fundraising event, in association with Church House Investment Management, was held at the Royal Geographical Society’s premises in Kensington.

After the Chairman’s welcome and introduction, the evening started with a short presentation of Royal Humane Society medal certificates to two young people whose outstanding bravery and selfless actions in saving the life of a police officer who was under attack during the London Bridge terror attacks last summer were recognised. Baroness Manningham-Buller presented Justin Jones (Silver Medal) and Ellen Gauntlett (Bronze Medal) with their Certificates on Vellum. The Metropolitan Police Service was represented by Assistant Commissioner Sir Stephen House. Our President, HRH Princess Alexandra, who very sadly could not be with us on the night, sent a touching message to Justin and Ellen whom she looks forward to meeting when she presents them with their Royal Humane Society medals at a future date.

It was a great honour to welcome our guest speaker, Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, a previous Director General of MI5 and now heading up the Wellcome Trust. She gave a thought provoking talk on ‘Ethics and Intelligence’ which provided a fascinating insight into how major ethical issues have to be managed in the security arena whilst remaining firmly within the rule of law, and the benefits, often longer term, that accrue from this approach. There followed a spirited Q & A session which allowed guests to ask Eliza a broad range of questions, some which could not be answered due to being under the Official Secrets Act.

Over 670 people attended the Birdwood lecture, dedicated to Lt Col Gordon Birdwood, our Deputy Chairman, who died suddenly in 2017. For the first time a selected number of schools were invited, and the Society was pleased to see that over 80 sixth formers were able to attend - and they asked more than their fair share of questions!

John Grandy, Chairman RHS commented: ‘The Birdwood lecture raised over £20,000 for the Society, thanks to the impressive number of tickets sold and the numerous donations made. Funding is essential if the Society is to keep up with the increasing pace of nominations for bravery, and for the saving of a life, that we have witnessed over the past two years. We are most grateful for the continued support of our governors, our friends, the many organisations that help, and for the significant contribution made by police forces across the UK and Northern Ireland’.

We shall soon be selecting a date for next year’s Birdwood lecture – please keep an eye on the RHS website for details.

Royal Humane Society Visit to Marine Police Unit – Wapping High Street

Following a chance meeting with members of the Marine Police Unit at a Metropolitan Police Service awards ceremony (at which some RHS awards were made), we were offered the chance to visit their station at Wapping High Street.

The MPU polices about 47 miles of the River Thames between Hampton Court in the west and Dartford Creek in the east. It has 22 vessels at its disposal, and also provides support to the rest of the Metropolitan Police and to the City of London Police when dealing with incidents in or around any waterway in London. It also has a specialist underwater and confined-spaces search team which operates throughout the Metropolitan Police area. The MPU has officers who are trained in rope access techniques and trained to carry out searches and counter demonstrator operations at height.

A lucky group of RHS trustees and governors spent a fascinating afternoon with the MPU looking at exhibits in their small but unique museum, followed by an exhilarating trip out on the Thames in a Fast Patrol Boat crewed by PC Paul Mihill, PC Justin Withers, and  PC Jane Friar.

We sped down river to the Thames Barrier, before returning upstream as far as Lambeth Bridge. We were given a unique insight into how the MPU police the River; they provide an active response to terror attacks (MPU played a key role in the London Bridge attacks last year), they routinely search vessel for drugs and contraband; and they prevent a significant number of suicides each month. Unfortunately, they are also responsible for recovering too many bodies from the water.


RHS Diary – Forthcoming Awards Meetings and Events

4 Dec 18 Awards Ceremony – Haberdashers’ Hall
10 Jan 19 Awards Meeting - Apothecaries’ Hall – List closes 1 Dec 18
11 Apr 19 Awards Meeting - Apothecaries’ Hall – List closes 14 Mar 19
30 May 19 Annual General Court – Haberdashers’ Hall
11 Jul 19 Away Day Awards Meeting – location TBC- List closes13 Jun 19
10 Oct 19 Awards Meeting - Apothecaries’ Hall – List closes 12 Sep 19
12 Nov 19 Birdwood Lecture – Fundraising event (date TBC)
20 Nov 19 Stanhope Gold Medal Meeting – Fishmongers’ Hall