Harry Bygrave of the Royal Life Saving Society 1928 – 1970

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Harry Bygrave of the Royal Life Saving Society 1928 – 1970

By Charles Brett

I first met Harry when I was at Unthank College in Norwich in 1955, my school had their swimming sessions at the open air baths at Lakenham where Harry worked as a supervisor, life saving instructor and pool attendant. Harry was a short man, thin but very wiry, he was always as brown as a berry and had a friendly but gruff voice. Most win-win casino game of thrones free slots! Manage to collect your winnings!

I got to know him quite well as my sister and I had joined the Norwich Swan Swimming Club and went swimming nearly every day. We were both taking our R.L.S.S. Awards, I was taking the Distinction and my sister was taking her Diploma. Harry was always there to help us youngsters in any way he could. At that time we knew he had taught hundreds of people to swim but we did not know how many lives he had saved over the years.

Many years later I worked at the City of Norwich Baths as supervisor and part of my responsibility was the open air pool at Lakenham, where Harry worked from 1940 to 1970.

In 1970 Harry retired from Norwich City Council after more than 30 years of swimming work, in which he taught hundreds of people to swim and saved many lives. He died in 1977 and gave a friend of mine his Bronze Medallion and Certificates, I asked if I could see them and photograph them, and they are reproduced with these notes.

Harry took his R.L.S.S. Bonze Medallion and Award of Merit in 1928 at the Lads Club of Norwich, a club which was set up by the Norwich police to help boys who were interested in sport and keep them out of trouble. It was here Harry learnt to box and very good he was too.

The Resuscitation Certificate of the Royal Humane Society, would have been awarded when Harry worked at Lakenham Baths, in those days there would have been up to 2000 swimmers a day at the pool. It was the only pool in Norwich and was open from May to September.

I took Harry’s Certificates and Bronze Medallion home and showed them to my sons, when one of them asked why in those days the Royal Life Saving Society was spelt LIPE. I looked at Harry’s medal, it was spelt LIPE as shown in the photograph. Someone had tried to put an F over the fop. I have checked my collection and I have one more dated 1928 and spelt LIPE, so I think all 1928 Bronze Medallions could have this mistake, perhaps readers will let me know. 

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