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The extremely rare Fleetwood Diamond Jubilee medal awarded to the 15 man crew of the Maude Pickup life boat for a series of rescues on the 18th June 1897.

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The extremely rare Fleetwood Diamond Jubilee medal awarded to the 15 man crew of the Maude Pickup life boat for a rescue on the 18th June 1897.

Fleetwood Diamond Jubilee Medal 1897, obv. bust of Queen Victoria left; rev. Fleetwood coat-of-arms (Fred Bettess for saving 18 lives in one trip, at Fleetwood, Ju … 97) naming partially obscured by the suspension, 39mm., bronze, straight bar suspension.

Fred Bettess was born in Padstowe, Cornwall in 1846 and later settled in Thornton-in-Fylde, near Fleetwood, Lancashire, where he became a member of the crew of the Fleetwood Station lifeboat.

During a severe storm on 18 June 1897, he served aboard the lifeboat Maud Pickup, which rescued five from the Zillah, three from the Svallorn and nine from the Louisa, plus one other for a total of 18.

During the rescue the beach and promenade at Fleetwood, Lancashre had crowds of anxious spectors watching the rescue.

“It was at approximately 7:45 AM on the morning of 16th June 1897 during a West Southwest Gail, the crew of a barque “Svalen”  Signal for help Close to Sunderland bank. At 8 AM the lifeboat”R.N.L.B. Maude Pickup”  launched and taken under tow by the steam tug “Brock”  I’m turned to the casualty. After battling their way through the storm storm lifeboat crew arrived at the barque “Svalen” after several attempts of getting alongside casualty they eventually managed to take the three crewmembers aboard the lifeboat.

On the return to Fleetwood the lifeboat crew spotted barque “Louisa”  running a ground onto pilling sands.  As the lifeboat volunteers make away through the violent and sees to rescue the crew of nine from the “Louisa” the heavy waves pounded the floundering barque and she started to break up.  The lifeboat crew managed to get alongside and rescue the nine crew and the pilot is taking them aboard their life boat.  As the crew were attempting this  rescue, the steamer  “Zillah”,  which was heading from Liverpool to Fleetwood, and running aground on the pilling sands I’m beginning to sink.  With the crew of the “Svalen”  and the crew the “Louisa”  aboard lifeboat the volunteers and made her way to the “Zillah”.  By the time the lifeboat reached the sinking steamer she had almost sunk with two of the crew desperately clinging onto the ships mast and another three cleaning onto the top of the funnel whilst being pounded by the  huge waves.  The life boat crew manage to rescue all five crew from the “Zillah”.

Coxswain  David Leadbetter and his crew of the “Maud pickup”  returned all 18 then they have rescued to Fleetwood at 2:30 PM,  where a large crowd gathered on the promenade cheering and waving.

David Leadbetter was awarded a pair of silver binoculars in Recognition of his outstanding skill and courage.  Later all the lifeboat crew members that were presented with a bronze medal by an owner of the ships the lifeboat had rescued his crew from.  This rescue earned lifeboat crew  of the “R.N.L.B. Maude Pickup” the name “Cockleshell Heros”.

For these rescues all fifteen men of the Maud Pickup were awarded special medals which had originally been struck by the town of Fleetwood to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The medals were adapted by engraving a suitable inscription around the edge.

With copied research and several copied photographs of ‘old Fleetwood’ including a group photograph of the crew with Better identified, and a copied photograph of him in later life.

The Group photo includes Fred Bettess on the back row,  5th from the left.

Fred Bettess died in October 1916.  His Son Richard Bettess was awarded the D.S.C. for courage and devotion to duty in an operation conveying supplied to Malta during the second world war.

Condition – GVF+