Eighty years ago, then-Princess Elizabeth received a special honor from the Royal Life Saving Society. The organization, founded in 1891, works to prevent avoidable drowning deaths by promoting water safety and delivering lifesaving and lifeguarding education. The Queen was the first person to receive the Society's Junior Respiration Award, for providing an example to young people and helping to establish lifesaving and resuscitation qualifications across the Commonwealth.
Today, the Queen participated in a video call with the organization, and shared her memories about the award.
"I didn’t realize I was the first one—I just did it, and had to work very hard for it!" the Queen recalled, of receiving the honor in 1941. "It was a great achievement and I was very proud to wear the badge on the front of my swimming suit. It was very grand, I thought."
In her first public remarks since her husband, Prince Philip's death, the Queen was hosted by Clive Holland, Deputy President of the Royal Life Saving Society, and joined by Dr. Stephen Beerman in Nanaimo, Canada, recipient of the Society’s 2020 King Edward VII Cup, as well as lifesavers Tanner Gorille from Cape Town, South Africa, and Sarah Downs from Exeter, UK.
Downs and Gorille both told the Queen about their respective rescue efforts which led to them receiving the Society’s Russell Medal, awarded to those under age 18 who save a life via resuscitation.
The Queen also awarded Dr. Stephen Beerman the King Edward VII Cup, which is given every two years to those who make outstanding contributions in drowning prevention. Normally, the Queen presents the award in person; however, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the remote ceremony.
As the Queen told Beerman, "I’m very delighted to be able to present you with this Cup—a very large cup, which one day you might see if you come to London."
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