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2003: First gallantry medal for lifeguarding

In May 2003, Rod MacDonald became the first RNLI lifeguard to receive an RNLI Medal for Gallantry.

RNLI lifeguard Rod MacDonald at Newquay in 2007

Photo: Carl Wilson

RNLI Lifeguard Rod MacDonald at Newquay in 2007

In May 2003, aged 37, Rod MacDonald became the first lifeguard to be presented with an RNLI Bronze Medal for Gallantry.

The award was presented after a particularly difficult and selfless rescue in October 2002.

Barefoot and wearing just a pair of shorts, Rod clambered down rocks to a gully at Fistral Beach, Newquay, to save a swimmer.

The casualty, who was about 50 metres from the shore, was being thrown against the rocks by strong waves and eventually lost consciousness.

After battling breaking surf to reach the badly injured swimmer, and with no rescue equipment to hand, Rod brought the man to shore and gave him first aid until an air ambulance and paramedic arrived.

Undoubtedly Rod’s bravery, expertise and willingness to put himself in danger saved the swimmer’s life.

Rod was presented with his medal by the Duke of Kent after the RNLI’s annual general meeting at the Barbican in London.

Although working in Cornwall at the time of the rescue, Rod is originally from Sydney Australia.  Speaking ahead of the presentation, he (rather modestly) described his medal as ‘a nice recognition’.