50 years ago this week: Friday, April 7, 1961

COXSWAIN Thomas Dawson, of North Sunderland, was presented with an award for gallantry by the Duchess of Kent at the annual meeting of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in London on Wednesday.

His wife was among the meeting of several hundred people who saw him receive the institution’s bronze medal for his part in the rescuing of a man from the cliff of Inner Farne Island last July.

The Duchess, who is president of the institution, said a few words to Mr Dawson while presenting the medal to him.

The official citation stated: “The lifeboat approached the south-west corner of the island, where a man was hanging on to a ledge on the rocky face, which was some 70 feet high. He was about 12 feet up and the sea was breaking at his feet.

“It would not have been possible for him to grasp a line fired to him and Coxswain Thomas Dawson realised that on of his crew would have to go overboard.

“It happened that none of the crew could swim, and Coxswain Dawson, knowing that the second coxswain was fully capable of assuming command of the lifeboat, decided to go to the help of the man himself.”