They summarised the feats of John Hampson, who had already been awarded the Royal Humane Society’s certificate for saving a girl from drowning at Whitehaven in 1897 when, five years later, the ship Wild Rose was wrecked off Maryport.
For swimming out ‘at great personal risk, and bringing a woman ashore on his back’, he was awarded the bronze Edward VII Sea Gallantry Medal, a forerunner of the George Cross.
Plainly a man of considerable character, Hampson was awarded the Royal Naval Reserve long service and good conduct medal before becoming a miner.
He was a deputy – a combination of foreman and safety offer – at the Wellington Pit, Whitehaven, when disaster struck in 1910. An explosion trapped 136 men and boys underground and, despite the heroic efforts of Hampson and fellow colliers, all died. For his actions he was awarded the bronze Edward Medal (Mines), only 318 of which were ever awarded.
Hampson was not rewarded with a happy life – the medals group at Colchester included a Great War memorial plaque awarded to his only son, John, who died of battle wounds aged 19, and Hampson himself died aged 57 from pneumonia, very possibly a legacy of his life in the mines.
Pitched at £1500-2000, the group sold at £2900.