Royal Shipwreck Relief & Humane Society Certificate and Medal; 1906; 03301-1


Kempsey Museum


Royal Shipwreck Relief & Humane Society Certificate and Medal

About this object

This certificate and silver medal was granted to Maud Josephine Keneally, aged 14 years, by the Royal Shipwreck Relief and Humane Society of New South Wales on 8 August 1906.

Maud earned the medal for saving Jack Gough, a 4½ year old boy from drowning in the Macleay River at East Kempsey on 25 July 1906. The boy was playing with a ball near the Keneally residence when the ball rolled down the river bank and into the river, followed by the boy running after it.

An alarm was raised by other children playing nearby and Maud Keneally plunged into the river fully clothed. She swam out to the boy and after a struggle managed to get him near the river bank where she was assisted by her younger brother John. John Keneally was awarded a bronze medal for this role in the rescue. Jack Gough made a full recovery thanks to the efforts and quick actions of the Keneally siblings.

River drowning was once a common occurrence on the Macleay and other local rivers with boating, swimming and other recreational activities resulting in drowning accidents. Maud Keneally’s prompt and brave actions averted one such incident.

The National Shipwreck Relief Society of New South Wales later named the Royal Shipwreck Relief and Humane Society of New South Wales was formed after the wreck of the Yarra on 15 July 1877 at the entrance to Newcastle Harbour, with the loss of 14 lives. It continues to recognise acts of bravery today as the Royal Humane Society of New South Wales, issuing medals just like this one.

With the formation of Surf Life Saving Clubs and patrols on our coastal waterways, swimming fatalities on our beaches have been reduced however Mid North Coast Rivers remain dangerous places for recreational pursuits. Rivers are the major place of all drowning incidents across Australia.

This certificate and medal remind us that rivers banks are dangerous places to play and of the events of 25 July 1906 when a young boy’s life was saved due to the actions and bravery of Maud Keneally.

Tom Plunkett and Debbie Sommers
31 October 2014

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