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Student saved from old mine shaft

Year 1953

Read by Vikki Millard – Supporter, Royal Humane Society

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Gill, Thomas Frederick, (33), Upholsterer. Fireman Cornwall Fire Brigade

Andrew, Richard Henry, (58), Driver & Attendant, Cornwall County Ambulance Service

Stanhope Gold Medal 1953

Saved Robert James Graham (20), Mining Student. In a disused mine shaft and old workings, Cligga Shaft, Cligga, Perranporth, Cornwall.

On 21st March, 1953, Mr Graham, with a companion, was exploring the old workings at Cligga. After being about 80 feet down for about an hour Mr Graham decided to rejoin his companion who had remained at the top. Mr Graham climbed a rope which was made fast at the top of the shaft but, when five feet from the top, he lost his hold and fell into the shaft, being severely injured in the fall. Mr Graham’s companion went for assistance and the Perranporth Unit of the Fire Brigade came to the scene.

On arrival of the Fire Brigade a survey of the position was made. The top of the shaft is guarded with girders 14 inches apart, making the entry impossible to a big man. The Divisional Officer, who was desirous of leading the rescue was unable to squeeze through the obstacle. Mr Graham, who could not be seen from the top, was able to make delirious answers to calls. It being clear that time was too precious to await the removal of the obstacle Fireman Gill volunteered to go down.

About 50 feet down the shaft is a platform of granite from which the working slopes away at an angle of about 50 degrees. Mr Graham was in this. Fireman Gill located him in a chamber of loose and dangerous granite which might slip and cause severe injuries or even death to anyone who entered it and Mr Graham was, as stated, injured.

The ambulance now arrived and Mr Andrew was lowered to the platform and a stretcher was lowered to him. With caution Fireman Gill then went down through the passage of loose granite rocks in the lower working and secured Mr Graham whom he brought to the platform. Mr Graham was bleeding from injuries but was conscious. It was decided that Mr Graham was sufficiently in possession of his faculties to assist in the rescue so morphia was not used. He was put on the stretcher. The position was still of considerable danger as falling rocks and stones endangered all three. Fireman Gill and Mr Andrew accordingly stood over Mr Graham and took the fall of stones on themselves to prevent further injuries to Mr Graham and continued to do this until he was hauled clear. The two salvors were then themselves hauled up. The rescue took from 5.45 – 7.30 p.m. to accomplish.

Richard Henry Andrew received the Bronze Medal.

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