Rare lifesaving medal in Newcastle

A rare Tynemouth Extension Medal presented for bravery in lifesaving at sea is to be auctioned in Newcastle at Anderson & Garland on behalf of the daughter of the extraordinary man it was presented to.

Tynemouth Extension Medal Charles Alfred Hill Porter was just 18 when he rescued a girl of around the same age from the sea at Tynemouth in 1922. His daughter, Helen Holmes from Rothbury, said: “He was a young man and he didn’t think he’d done anything untoward. As a character, he was very self-effacing. 

“I was aware it happened but he did so many things. He was a very keen Himalayan mountain climber and he was one of the first Englishmen to climb Mont Blanc without oxygen or a mountain guide.”

Mr Hill Porter, who went on to work as a mining engineer for the National Coal Board, used to travel by train to the beach at Tynemouth from his home in Woolsingham.

“He didn’t know the girl,” said Mrs Holmes,“but he did get a present from her family.”

In addition, he was presented with the Tynemouth Extension Medal, which is being auctioned as part of the Anderson & Garland Fine Art Sale on June 14 and 15. The medal is dated 11th August 1922 and inscribed ‘Palmam Qui Meruit’ around a view of King Edward’s Bay, Tynemouth, with blue ribbon and hanging bar. It is in its original box. 

One hundred silver Tynemouth medals were originally made at the request of New York lawyer, EB Convers. Once they had all been presented, the ‘Extension’ medals were created. 

Anderson & Garland auctioneer, Fred Wyrley-Birch, said: “Mr Convers witnessed a rescue in Tynemouth. He was so impressed with the heroism that he commissioned 100 silver medals to be awarded to people saving lives on Tyneside and Tynesiders saving lives elsewhere. They were given for selfless acts of bravery. 

 “Tynesiders being as heroic as they are, these medals were given out quite quickly and an extension was created. This is one of the rarest of all lifesaving medals and I have never sold one before.”

The medal has an estimated value of £400 but Tynemouth medals have sold for more than £1,000 in the past. 

The piece is expected to appeal to both private and institutional collectors and Mr Wyrley-Birch is hopeful the buyer will display it and share the story of Mr Hill Porter’s heroism. 

He said: “Although institutions are very grateful for gifts and donations of these types of items, you often find there is just not the space or expertise to display them properly. But we’ve found that if they have had to raise monies to purchase the items for the benefit of the viewing public, the time, money and expertise to show them off is found. 

“Private collectors will often loan them too so that people are able to look at the medals and learn about their story.”

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