John Gibson Award

Narrow Escape from Drowning

A widow lady named Porteous, living in Henry Nelson Street, Ocean Road, South Shields, had a very narrow escape from drowning while bathing yesterday forenoon. Mrs Porteous, who is between forty and fifty years of age, was bathing from the beach, about midway between the South Pier and the Trow Rocks, when she got out of her depth, and was being carried into deeper water by the current, which sets from that spot towards the South Pier. Her dangerous position was fortunately seen from the beach, and John Gibson, of Fort Street, South Shields, and J. Henderson, of High Shields (the latter a member of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade), at once proceeded to attempt a rescue. They succeeded in dragging her into shallow water, but by this time she was quite unconscious and apparently dead. Restoratives were applied, and last night she was progressing as well could be expected.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 8 August 1884

Presentatation For Gallantry At South Shields


On Saturday afternoon, a drill of the members of the South Shields Life Brigade was held at the South Pier, about 60 of the corps attending, together with Capts. Mabane, W. Cay, M. Cay, and Cottew, and Deputy-Captains Wood, Potts, Coulson, and Whitelaw. After the drill, the members assembled in the Brigade House, when the presentation of a testimonial on vellum of the Royal Humane Society was presented to Mr John Gibson, who, on the 7th of August last, risked his life to save that of a lady, who while bathing, had got into a dangerous position and was drowning./pr>  

The MAYOR, who presided, called upon

Mr S. MALCOLM (secretary to the Life Brigade), to narrate the circumstances under which the Society's testimonial had been earned. In the course of his opening remarks, Mr Malcolm spoke of Mr Mabane's second election to the Mayoralty, and congratulated him and another of their worthy captains—Mr Matthew Cay—upon their pending elevation to the magisterial office. Coming to the immediate business of that meeting, he said he might briefly relate the circumstances under which Mr Jno. Gibson was instrumental saving the life of Miss Porteous. Miss Porteous was accustomed to go frequently down to the beach to bathe. On August the 7th, while bathing, she unfortunately got beyond her depths, and would certainly have been drowned had it not been for the indomitable exertions of John Gibson, assisted by James Henderson, one of the members of the Brigade. Mr Gibson, as soon he saw the dangerous position of the lady, stripped, a rope was attached to his body by Mr Henderson, and he then swam to the rescue. When, he got within 15 yards of Miss Porteous his strength failed, but he made a violent effort, and got hold of the sinking lady. They then sank together, but fortunately Henderson held the rope attached to Gibson's body and drew them to land. Miss Porteous was in an exhausted condition, and was taken to the Brigade House, where she was attended by Dr Crease. Mr Malcolm said that having heard of those circumstances, he thought it his duty to bring the matter before the Royal Humane Society, and received a postcard to the effect that the society had decided to present Mr Gibson with their testimonial in vellum. Subsequently he received a letter transmitting the testimonial, and asking him to arrange for its presentation. Mr Malcolm then read the testimonial.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 8 December 1884