This article is about the two gallantry medals that follow the George Medal in order of precedence: The Queen’s Gallantry Medal (QGM) and the Sea Gallantry Medal (SGM) respectively.
QUEEN’S GALLANTRY MEDAL
The Queen’s Gallantry Medal was introduced on 20 June 1974 to award acts of bravery by civilians, although it can be awarded to military personnel. With the introduction of this medal, the gallantry awards in the Order of the British Empire ceased. As with other gallantry medals, a bar is awarded for subsequent acts. The medal can also be awarded posthumously.
The QGM is a circular silver medal, 36 millimetres in diameter. The ribbon is blue with a central light-grey stripe, that is itself bisected by a thin pink stripe. The obverse (outward) facing side has the sovereign’s profile. The reverse (worn inwards) side has an imperial crown above the following text “The Queen’s Gallantry Medal” flanked by laurel leaves.
An posthumous award of the Queen’s Gallantry Medal was made to Fleur Lombard, who in 1996, became the first British women fire-fighter to die on duty. She was killed while fighting a blaze at a Bristol supermarket.
While fighting the fire inside the building, Fleur Lombard was caught in a flashover and was killed as a result of the intense heat. At the time of the incident, she was heading out of the blazing supermarket with another fireman (Rob Seaman). When he realised that Fleur Lombard had not joined him outside the blazing supermarket, Rob Seaman re-entered the building and found her body only a few yards from the exit.
For their conduct in this incident, Rob Seaman was awarded the George Medal and Pat Foley was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery.
The fire was deliberately started by an arsonist. A security guard Martin Cody, then aged 21, was later jailed for 7.5 years for manslaughter and arson.
SEA GALLANTRY MEDAL
Unusually for a medal, the Sea Gallantry Medal was introduced by an act of Parliament: The Merchant Shipping Acts of 1854 and 1894. The 1854 Act made provision for monetary rewards for saving life at sea, but in 1855 this was altered from a cash reward into the reward of the Sea Gallantry Medal in either gold, silver or bronze. The medal was also issued in two categories or classes: gallantry (when the rescuer risked their live) and humanity (where risks to the rescuer were minimal).
The SGM is a circular gold, silver or bronze medal, initially 56 millimetres in diameter, which was reduced to 33 millimetres diameter in 1903. The 56 millimetre-diameter medal was not designed to be worn by the recipient, but this was changed by the change to a 33 millimetre version.
Initially issued by the Board of Trade, the later medals were issued by the Ministry of Transport. All the medals were issued with the recipient’s name around the medal’s rim.
The medal’s obverse was the profile of Queen Victoria, while the reverse was a family on a storm-tossed shore reviving a rescued sailor. The ribbon was red with narrow white stripes towards the edges.
The last award of this medal was in 1989. Only one person has been awarded this medal twice, as a clasp to the first medal): Chief Officer James Whiteley in 1921.