Stanhope Gold Medal Presentation in Sri Lanka
It was a great privilege to present the widow and family of Mr H.M. Keerthi Bandara with his Stanhope Gold Medal (in Memoriam).
On the afternoon of 1st October 2017 at Udawiharagala, Haputhale, in Sri Lanka H.M. Keerthi Bandara saved the lives of 22 passengers whilst sacrificing his own. He was driving the Bandarawela to Kosgama bus that afternoon when the brakes failed. It was a very steep, narrow and dangerous part of the road and the bus careered off the track. He could not control the speed of the bus and he recognised with horror that his passengers, the office staff, teachers, school children, pregnant mothers, and their small children, were in very grave danger. The passengers were screaming and crying out and Keerthi Bandara realised he had to do something immediately if he was to save their lives. Whilst struggling with the steering wheel he ordered all the passengers to move to the back of the bus and to hang on tightly. He then deliberately swung his speeding bus into the Udawiharagala rockface, having realised that this was the only way to stop the vehicle and prevent it from plunging over the edge. The bus came to an instant stop and the driver’s side was severely damaged. While all 22 passengers were safe and walked free, Keerthi Bandara died in the crash. For his extraordinary bravery that day H M Keerthi Bandara was unanimously awarded the Stanhope Gold Medal 2018 (in Memoriam).
The medal was presented to the Bandara family by Major (Retired) Roland Milbank, a senior member of the Royal Humane Society of New South Wales, and Mr Neil Kavanagh, the First Secretary of British High Commission. Also present at the ceremony was the Honorable Speaker, and the Leader of the Opposition, representing the The Parliament of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
The Society is most grateful to Mr Kasun P Chandraratne, the President and Founder of the Foundation for Civilian Bravery, Sri Lanka, for submitting the nomination and for organising such a magnificent event to recognise properly the bravery of a humble man.
We are delighted to welcome to the Society Dom Troulan GC QGM as an Honorary Life Governor. Dom is a retired British Army officer and former Royal Marine who served from 1979-2009 on operations in the Falklands, Northern Ireland, and Iraq. He has the unique distinction of being awarded not only the Queen’s Gallantry Medal but also the George Cross and is the only person either alive or dead ever to have been so honoured. In the Civilian Gallantry List 2017 he was awarded the George Cross for his extraordinarily brave actions that saved so many lives during the 2013 Westgate Shopping Mall terrorist attack in Nairobi. He was the first civilian recipient of the George Cross in 25 years, an award that was instituted in the dark days of September 1940 by HM King George VI, in order to reward acts of the highest levels of civilian courage.
The South Berks Concert Band Awards Ceremony 3 April 2019
A “Music for a Spring Evening” concert by the South Berks Concert Band was held on 23rd March in St. John’s Church in Mortimer. There were solo instrument features, small group pieces, and a wide variety of music selected by guest conductor, Peter Cole. During the interval, guests, audience, and band members enjoyed their refreshments as they circulated around the band displays and found out a little more about the band’s chosen charity for the evening, The Royal Humane Society.
Guests included the Chairman of West Berkshire Council, a representative from Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council and leading members from several local groups. Together they drove the project to provide public access to defibrillators around the Mortimer community. Noel Sanders, the band’s Bass Trombonist, was the compère for the evening. He introduced Andrew Chapman of the Royal Humane Society who presented Resuscitation Certificates to two clarinet players, Barbara Still and Stella Gibbons, who saved Noel’s life. In September 2018 Noel had a heart attack during a band rehearsal. Barbara and Stella rushed to his aid, conducting chest compressions and rescue breathes. They attached him to a defibrillator and he was given four shocks. Less than half an hour later he was talking and responding to questions.
The Royal Humane Society congratulates Barbara and Stella for their quick thinking and selfless actions that evening. Our thanks to Noel Sanders for organising the awards ceremony, and to the South Berks Concert Band for their wonderfully uplifting music and most generous donation.
RHS Special Investiture Ceremony, Fishmongers’ Hall 20 November 2018
Charles Spicer, Deputy Chairman RHS and a Court Assistant of The Fishmonger’s Company, outlined his idea for creating a profile raising opportunity for the Society when he became High Sheriff of Greater London in 2018. He proposed an event at Fishmongers’ Hall that would complement other 2018 RHS fundraising events. The event would celebrate the bravery of those involved in the London Bridge and Westminster Bridge 2017 terrorist attacks in front of senior city figures and civic organisations, at zero cost to the Society. The Chairman and Trustees unanimously supported this proposal.
It was agreed the format of the event would be morning coffee followed by an investiture ceremony, refreshments and buffet lunch. This would be organised by the very experienced Fishmongers’ Company team.
The guest list included the following:
- 13 RHS Bronze Medal Awardees plus families
- RHS Vice Presidents, Life Governors, Trustees and Staff.
- Police Commissioners, Met, City, and Transport Police.
- Senior Judges.
- Senior clerics from all faiths including Westminster Abbey and Southwark Cathedral.
- London Ambulance.
- Senior representatives from St Thomas’ and Guy’s Hospital
- City of Westminster.
- Neighbouring and past High Sheriffs.
- Representatives from Borough Market
- Media (not reporting only observing).
The Special Investiture Ceremony
Guests arrived on time and after coffee moved into the Banqueting Hall. Charles Spicer opened the ceremony by welcoming the guests to Fishmongers’ Hall, especially the award winners, leading into a short briefing on the history of the office of the High Sheriff and how the role works today.
The Revd Canon Gilly Myers, Canon Precentor, Southwark Cathedral, led prayers and a one minute’s silence in memory of the casualties and honouring all those involved in the terrorist attacks.
The Chairman gave a brief overview of the RHS touching on history, current operations and future aspirations aimed at further raising the profile of the Society.
The Secretary read the citations and bronze medals were presented as follows:-
Westminster Bridge attacks – 22 March 2017:
On the afternoon of 22 March 2017 a terrorist drove over Westminster Bridge running down pedestrians - four were killed and many injured. The car crashed outside the Palace of Westminster and the terrorist, armed with a knife, ran towards Parliament. He was confronted by PC Keith Palmer who was unarmed. The officer was fatally stabbed before armed police shot the terrorist. Despite a secondary threat of further attack, several people assisted.
A/PS Joe Kirby, PCs Ryan Hall, Dave Mills, Ben Sparkes, Thomas Wright
Medals presented by Vice Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, Colonel Jane Davis OBE QVRM TD DL
A/PS JOE KIRBY, PCs DAVE MILLS, BEN SPARKES, and TOM WRIGHT were returning to base from a presentation at a nearby school when they heard the news of shots being fired. The team turned around and went to help, even though they only had standard personal protection equipment. At the scene it was chaos and with some people screaming and running in all directions, others motionless in shock. The officers placed a cordon to control the crowds as they had no idea whether the attack was still ongoing. The officers were faced with mass casualties and set about escorting the wounded to the cordon and safety, and then providing vital first aid to casualties with severe injuries, including a South Korean woman who had serious head, spine and pelvic injuries and needed urgent attention. PC RYAN HALL joined them at this stage, providing medical supplies and oxygen to keep the woman alive. Regardless of the danger, and the information that there may have been an explosive device under the bridge or in the suspect’s crashed car, they stayed on the bridge attending to the now unconscious woman and numerous other casualties until the medical services could take over.
Michael Crofts, Anthony Davis, Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP (not present), Dr Rajiv Wijesuriya (not present)
Medals presented by Deputy Lord Mayor of Westminster, Councillor Ian Adams.
TONY DAVIS, a retired Army Senior Non-Commissioned Officer, saw the terrorist armed with two large knives enter the gates and attack the police officer. Regardless of the danger (he was a few metres from the attacker) Tony immediately ran forward to help the fatally wounded officer, applying pressure to his wounds, before starting CPR.
MIKE CROFTS, a retired Army officer, also heard the commotion and saw the attacker being shot. Disregarding his own safety, Mike also ran to the aid of the fallen officer. With combat medic experience he took control and directed the first aid effort, calling for Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS). He joined Tony with applying pressure before commencing CPR.
TOBIAS ELLWOOD left his office and ran to the scene, reaching Tony and Mike who were at this stage applying pressure to the officer’s wounds. The officer went into cardiac arrest and so Mike ordered CPR. Tony and Tobias started breaths and chest compressions. When the HEMS doctor arrived, Tobias continued to aid the officer’s breathing via an artificial airway whilst the medics undertook emergency first aid.
RAJIV WIJESURIYA was waiting for a taxi when he heard about the attack. He ran to the scene and went to the wounded officer first. He checked that effective CPR was being given by Tony, Mike and Tobias, and then went to attend to the attacker. He could see the knife and a spent cartridge case but asked police to remove the handcuffs so he could apply first aid. He ensured oxygen was provided and inserted an airway. Rajiv gave CPR as the attacker was placed in the ambulance and continued this until they reached hospital. Despite everyone’s best efforts the police officer died at the scene. The terrorist died later in hospital.
London Bridge attacks – 3 June 2017
On the evening of 3 June 2017 terrorists drove a van indiscriminately at pedestrians on London bridge killing and maiming people. The attackers continued on to nearby Borough Market where people in the local pubs and restaurants were attacked, many sustaining multiple stab wounds and fatal injuries. Armed police arrived and the attackers, who were armed with knives and wearing fake suicide vests, were shot dead. In total 8 people died and 48 were injured.
Captain Peter Bryan, Elizabeth Bryan, Nicola Purchase
Medals presented by Deputy Chairman, Borough Market, David Lyon,
The nominees were at a pre-wedding party about to eat when ELIZABETH BRYAN, a registered nurse, saw the emergency vehicles block the bridge. She realised an attack was underway when she saw people running away, and a helicopter hovering above. She urged NICOLA PURCHASE, also a nurse, to go with her to help, as they had medical expertise. Both women started to run and were immediately joined by Captain PETER BRYAN. They ran to the bridge against the flow of fleeing people, even pushing on through a security cordon to reach the injured. On the bridge they found numerous victims who had been mown down. Elizabeth and Peter performed CPR on a badly injured woman. Nicola helped a critically injured man with multiple fractures and a head injury. Elizabeth then left Peter doing CPR and ran off with a trauma bag to help other victims. She tried unsuccessfully to save a fatally injured man before moving on to attend to a badly wounded German woman. The situation was chaotic and they could hear live gunfire. The three stayed on the bridge helping the injured and carrying the dead off the bridge until the emergency services restored order. Only then did all three go back to their friends and the pre-wedding party.
Dr Tom Perrin
Medal presented by Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, Neil Basu QPM (National Lead for Counter Terrorism Policing)
TOM PERRIN, an off-duty A&E doctor, was enjoying a night out with friends when he became caught up in the incident. He saw a man with stab wounds, so checked his condition and provided on the spot first aid. When he heard gunshots Tom moved the man to a safer place with the help of a police officer. Regardless of the risks he then went on to assist another five seriously injured casualties. Tom also provided help and advice to those administering CPR on two other casualties before assisting paramedics and ambulance crews in the transfer of casualties to hospital.
The Chairman congratulated awardees and their families, welcoming them to the pantheon of RHS Medal Winners, and thanked those dignitaries who presented the awards.
The High Sheriff closed the ceremony and invites the awardees, VIPs, and guests to the Court Drawing Room and the Dining Room where refreshments and an excellent buffet lunch were enjoyed by all.
This memorable event, so generously sponsored by Charles Spicer, and superbly organised and catered by the Fishmongers’ Company, undoubtedly succeeded in raising the Society’s profile to a wide cross section of London VIP’s.
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 Events
13 Nov 2019 Birdwood Lecture – Fundraising event (date TBC)
19 Nov 2019 Stanhope Gold Medal Meeting
The Chairman and Trustees of the Royal Humane Society are pleased to present the 2019 Birdwood Lecture, a talk by Dame Cressida Dick DBE QPM, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, which will take place on Wednesday 13th November 2019 at the Royal Geographic Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR. Drinks 6.15pm Lecture 7.15pm.
You can buy tickets on line by going to the link below and clicking on ‘Buy ticket’. Please note that cheaper ‘early bird’ tickets are on sale until midnight on 31 August 2019.
Royal Humane Society – Top Awards from January 2019 List
The Royal Humane Society Awards Committee made 285 awards from the 125 cases considered at the January 2019 Awards meeting. Here are some of the top awards:
Richard Stanton, John Volanthen - for their key role in the Thailand cave rescue
Joshua Bratchley, Christopher Jewel, Jason Mallinson, Connor Roe - for their role in the Thailand cave rescue
Zenun Damsell - Harvey – for intervening in a fight and saving the life of a man being attacked
Bartlomimej Kozlowski - for saving a young woman who fell on a live electrified railway line
Police Medal 2018
PC James Slender MPS- for saving the driver and a passenger from a burning bus
President’s Award (young persons under 18)
Cadet Jordan Anderson – for saving a man drowning in the sea.
Testimonial on Vellum
PC Jake Brown – for saving a man from a submerged van during a storm
Dax Burley, Christopher Hobson - saving a young woman who fell on a live electrified railway line
Jonathan Byers, Richard Isaac – for trying to save a girl injure by a rockfall at the foot of a cliff
Michael Carr – for saving a man from drowning in the River Foss
Richard Carr – for saving a boy from drowning in the River Thames
Paul Le Marechal, Lee Watts – for saving a man and his daughter from a burning car
Dr Chris Monk – for saving a couple whose boat caught fire following a gas cylinder explosion
PC Adam Rickers – for rescuing a man 250 feet up on the roof of York Minster on a wet, windy night
PC Robert Stordy – for saving an injured woman who was stuck on a cliff face
Royal Humane Society – Top Awards from April 2019 List
The Royal Humane Society Awards Committee made 223 awards from the 105 cases considered at the April 2019 Awards meeting. Here are some of the top awards:
PC Natasha Holing and PC Jamie Norman - Rescuing people from a house fire
William McMullan – Rescuing an unconscious man from a burning car
CSgt James Scovell RM – Saving the life of a fellow Royal Marine from the sea
Liam Pastore (aged 14) – Saving the lives of two women drowning in the sea
Testimonial on Vellum
A/PS Paul Wolley - Rescuing people from a house fire
Darren Credland – Saving a man from drowning in the sea
Thomas Dotchin – Rescuing a woman climber who had fallen off a mountain
Sarah Hammond – Saving the life of a woman in a hostile crowd
David Howard – Saving the life of an unconscious woman whose car sank in a lake
PC Kate Massender and PC Sean Pierse – Preventing a man falling off a motorway bridge
Rachel Quercia-Smale – Saving the life of a man trapped in a burning car
Aaron Takel - Preventing a man falling off a motorway bridge