Shannon J – 1962
BB Gazette Vol.72 No.1 – The Boys’ Brigade Cross for Heroism has been awarded to 15-year old John Barry Shannon of the 1st Portstewart (Co. Londonderry) Company.
Whilst Barry was sunbathing on the rocks at Portstewart Strand, in August 1962, he noticed a man apparently in difficulties about 300 yards from the shore. At this spot two tides join to form a strong current and there is also an undertow. Portstewart is the meeting point of two tides which join and form a strong current and it was in these conditions that Barry swam a distance of about 400 yards to the man—a clergyman, on holiday with his family— who had swallowed a fair amount of water and was exhausted. The clergyman was a weak swimmer and was in real danger of drowning, having become drained by the relentless nature of the waves. Against very high breakers Barry swam 400 yards to the man who was showing signs of exhaustion. He towed the man back to the shore where he received assistance in dragging the man on to the beach. But for Barry’s immediate action the man would have drowned.
Barry kept the story of his heroic action to himself, and his parents knew nothing of it until some days later. He joined the 1st Portstewart in 1958 and was the first Boy in his Company to gain the swimming badge, later receiving the life-saving certificate in 1962