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The Gold Medal is the RNLI's highest award for bravery. Generally considered to be the equivalent of the Victoria Cross, it's presented to only the most courageous and selfless individuals. Like the VC, the people who win it are few and far between. Winning one is an exceptional feat - winning three is unheard of. Henry Blogg was awarded three Gold and four Silver RNLI medals for gallantry, as well as the George Cross and British Empire Medal. For courage such as his, superlatives seem inadequate.

On a bitter cold winter’s day In January 1917, Henry and his crew rowed an open boat through mountainous seas and gale-force winds to reach the shattered and wrecked ship of the SS Fernebo. By the time they pulled alongside, the lifeboat crew had been struggling against the elements for nearly 14 hours. The crew saved 11 men that night. It was for this act of incredible bravery he won his first gold medal.

Henry's second Gold Medal came 10 years later. In exceptionally perilous circumstances - and despite having been on duty for 28 hours - the Cromer lifeboat went to the assistance of the Dutch tanker SS Georgia that had broken in two on the Haisborough Sands. Fifteen men were saved.

Photo - London News Agency

Henry Blogg was a local man who became a national hero and the RNLI's most decorated lifeboatman. It was in 1947 when he finally took off his lifejacket marked ‘Cox’ for the last time, after 53 years of service as a volunteer in the RNLI. His personal courage, seamanship and leadership skills epitomise the ethos of the RNLI and have inspired generations of lifesavers. But Henry himself was a reluctant hero. Personally modest, this 'the greatest of the lifeboatmen' always gave his occupation as simply... crab fisherman.

With the assistance of his dedicated crew he saved 873 lives from the North Sea.

All other photos courtesy of RNLI

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