Traditionally the RNLl has rewarded people who have carried out rescues independently of the institution. There have been some outstanding acts of bravery by people working on their own initiative. Such rescues are classified as “Shore Boat Services" by the RNLI.
On the afternoon of June 7 1975, 14-year-old Martin Buddy, in his 9 ft inflatable dinghy, off Tunnels Beach, llfracombe, noticed a speedboat in distress. Appreciating the predicament of the occupants, he rowed his dinghy for 20 minutes to their position through the 4 ft swells. Martin pulled aboard his dinghy a man, a boy and a dog. A woman whose clothing had been caught in the sinking speedboat was being dragged under for the second time. Martin grabbed hold of her, and, with the help of the speedboat owner, managed to release her and pull her aboard. Another man, now numb with cold after immersion in the sea, was also hauled into the small dinghy. Martin then rowed them all back to the beach, through the waves and against the tide. For his bravery in rescuing four people, Martin was awarded the BNLI’s Bronze Medal, and an inscribed wrist-watch.
Other organisations also reward people who have rescued others in danger. One day in 1918, “Ernie" Ley, a lifeboat crew-member with his father and brother, saved two boys from rocks. The following day he rescued a man from drowning who had fallen from a paddle steamer: Ernie dived into the sea while still clad in his oilskins and waders to rescue this man, He was awarded the Bronze Medal of the Royal Humane Society for his "courage and humanity".