It was a moving and humbling experience to attend the Shipwrecked Mariners Society national awards ceremony at the magnificent Fishmongers Hall in London on October 7th 2014.
These awards, presented by the Charity’s Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, recognised outstanding acts of skill and gallantry during air and sea rescues.
The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society has given these awards every year since 1851, highlighting the continuing reliance on the skill and bravery of individuals in rescuing lives and dealing with other emergency situations at sea.
Among this year’s recipients were the helicopter crew of ‘Rescue 193’ from 771 Squadron, RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, that carried out the daring rescue of five French fishermen from a sinking vessel in high winds and near complete darkness off the Cornish coast.
Meanwhile, Petty Officer (Aircrewman) Russell Adams, also from 771 Squadron, RNAS Culdrose, was recognised for his role in a separate incident a few months later, again off the Cornish coast. Despite having to battle 30 foot waves and being submerged himself during the operation, he successfully retrieved all of the fishermen from their vessel before it was wrecked.
Other award recipients were RNLI Helmsman Derek Pusey from Cardigan Lifeboat Station for his part in the challenging rescue of two men who were stranded on a ledge and in danger of being swept out to sea. His colleague, Crewman Clive Williams, also from Cardigan Lifeboat Station, was also honoured for swimming to the casualties, climbing onto the rocks and helping to recover the men to safety.
Finally, RNLI Coxswain Paul Legendre from Newhaven Lifeboat Station was recognised for his outstanding leadership, seamanship and perseverance in leading his crew of seven through challenging conditions during an extensive, sixhour search for a missing boy west of the Newhaven breakwater.
Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society Chief Executive, Commodore Malcolm Williams, said: “Each year we continue to be humbled and impressed by the incredible feats of skill, determination and courage demonstrated by the recipients of these awards. Despite modern technology, these awards highlight the fact we still very much rely on the courage and determination of individuals in emergency situations at sea.