Reader with a cross to bear

The bronze cross discovered on the beach at Whitby
The bronze cross discovered on the beach at Whitby

A MYSTERIOUS bronze cross found deep in the sand at Whitby could be from the 1950s.

Last month we reported that Tony Miller from York had unearthed the artefact while using his metal detector on Collier Sands near the boat house.

It had the name W Oxberry engraved on the back and said Royal Life Saving Society on the front but there was no indication when it was awarded or what it had been presented for.

The Gazette has been contacted by BDW Hardy who remembers following Royal Life Saving Society qualifications at school and that the bronze cross was presented to candidates who passed the required standard.

He said: “In the early 1950s the school that I attended offered any student from the age of 14 the opportunity to study and swim his way through the various levels of Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) qualifications.

“Towards the end of each summer term an external RLSS examiner attended and carried out oral questioning of the theory which had been learnt and observed each student as he carried out the practical swimming techniques and rescue procedures, all of which became more complicated and more difficult as the level of the qualification got higher.”

Those pupils who were successful were presented with their RLSS awards during a school assembly.

The elementary certificate followed by the intermediate certificate could both be completed in one academic year.

After that the potential lifesavers progressed to the bronze medallion, then the bronze cross and after that came the Award of Merit and then another level after that.

If they wanted to continue learning there was the RLSS Instructor’s Certificate so pupils could assist the teacher in the training of the young elementary and intermediate candidates.

Mr Hardy added: “All of this meant that most students achieved the RLSS Bronze Cross in their GCE year, by which time they had a considerable knowledge and practical experience of rescue and resuscitation techniques.

“Apart from being of potential value to society at large, they were particularly useful people to have around the school swimming pool. But perhaps more importantly it added to one’s feeling of self worth and usefulness.

“However, I guess that in today’s health and safety obsessed society there is no longer a place for such activities.”