Boy Scout Cross for Gallantry, in Silver, Reverend R.C. Unwin, awarded for saving 2 girls in 1922, a well regarded local Reverend in Northumberland.
The Reverend Reginald Christopher Unwin, was a colourful character in the North East of England. He earned this Cross as a young man for saving 2 women students who had capsized in the River Wear whilst he was with the local Durham University Scout Club.
He graduated as a Divinity Student and became a Reverend shortly afterwards.
He travelled around the country preaching with various different parishes, before returning back to the North East around Durham and Northumberland, later in his life, in the 1970s, when he ran the St Michaels Home of Healing in Cleadon Village, a rather amusing article was published in the Newcastle Journal detailing his efforts to help heal the ailing George Best, the legendary MUFC footballer, he had a back and forth with Manchester United, and insisted that: “If he will just say yes and come up here I think that with a little help we can have him back on the field and as good as ever in about 3 months.” His “Surefire Recipe” was “Plenty of rest, relaxation and good home-cooked food – but no whiskey and no girls.”
Officially named on reverse: “R. C. Unwin 16.6.22” Hallmarked on the reverse dated “K” Birmingham Production and produced by “D.G.C.” DG Collins Ltd of London during 1959.
Named in the official style and by the maker of the 50s period crosses, so possibly a later replacement.
The award recalled in the Hartlepool Daily Mail, 23rd November 1922:
“Scouts R.C. Unwin and H.C. Davies, of Durham University Scout Club, were yesterday recipients of silver and gilt crosses from Sir Robert Baden Powell in recognition of their gallantry in saving the lives of Women students who were capsized in the River Wear earlier this year.”
“George Best, the mixed up Manchester United and Northern Ireland Football star, can forget all his problems if he heads for the North East….
The man who believes he can get to the bottom of all George’s problems is the Rev Reginald Unwin, who runs the St Michael’s Home of Healing at Cleadon Village in Sunderland…
Mr Unwin wrote to United’s Manager, Mr Frank O’Farrell, earlier this week after reading of George’s decision to quit football.
He said: ‘I think it is a crying shame that a lad of so much talent is ready to turn his back on a game to which he can still give so much.
I have been a life long football fan and quite frankly, I believe that George Stands comparison with many of the greats of the past.
If he’ll just say yes and come up here I think that with a little help we can have him back on the field and as good as ever in about 3 months.’ …”
Reginald Christopher Unwin, was born during 1903 in Lancashire, being baptised there by his father when he ran the St Peters Church in Kirkdale. He was the son of the Clergyman Reverend William Cummings Unwin (Born 1860).
He moved around with the Church as a boy, living in Burslem, Staffordshire during 1911, where his father was Curate.
He went to Durham University for an education during the end of WW1.
He was too young to serve himself, but his old brother Francis John Unwin, had been commissioned in the Royal Air Force and died in service on 17th September 1919 aged only 22 in the Archangel Operations in North Russia on HMS Vindictive.
Shields Daily News, 21st December 1925:
“DIOCESE OF DURHAM
The Bishop of Durham held an ordination in Durham Cathedral Yesterday…
The Reverend JF Clayton preached the Sermon and the Gospel was read by the Rev. R.C. Unwin, B.A. one of the newly-ordained deacons…
The Following were ordained:
Reginald Christopher Unwin, of St Johns Collecge, Durham, B.A.
Rev R.C. Unwin, B.A., to the Curacy of St Gabriel, Bishopwearmouth.”
He travelled around a lot with the church, returning back to Durham after gaining some experience in various parishes.
Warwick Advertiser, 3rd August 1935:
“PARISH CHURCH – The Rev R.C. Unwin, the new rector of All Saints, Birmingham, will be in resident at Hampton Lucy Rectory, and conduct the services while the Archdeaacon and his family are spending August on holiday in Scotland.”
As a former Scout, Rev Unwin also became a Chaplain to the Forces,
North Wilts Herald, 13th October 1939, reports:
Thanksgiving services for the in gathering of the harvest were held at the Parish Church on Sunday, and were conducted by the Vicar Rev G.L. Hankey…
And at Evensong the preacher was the Reverend R.C. Unwin, Chaplain of the Forces, who occupied the pulpit at the evening service at the Parish Church the previous Sunday.”
TRYING TO HELP GEORGE BEST, Newcastle Journal 1972:
“ RECIPE TO HELP GEORGE BEST
George Best, the mixed-up Manchester United and Northern Ireland Football Star, can forget all his problems if he heads for the North East.
And last night the man who has written to Manchester offering to put the fallen star on the road to recovery claimed, “I could have him back on the rails inside 3 months.”
The man who believes he can get to the bottom of all George’s problems is the Rev. Reginald Unwin, who runs the St Michael’s Home of Healing at Cleadon Village, Sunderland.
Mr Unwin’s surefire recipe for recuperation is plenty of rest, relaxation and good home-cooked food – but no WHISKEY and no GIRLS.
Mr Unwin, wrote to Manchester United’s manager, Mr Frank O’Farrell, earlier this week after reading of George’s decision to quit football.
He said: “I Think it is a crying shame that a lad of so much talent is ready to turn his back on a game to which he can still give so much.”
“I have been a lifelong football fan and quite frankly, I believe that George stands comparison with any of the greats of the past.
If he’ll just come up here I think that with a little help we can have him back on the field and as good as ever in about 3 months.”
By George’s standards it would be a cheap rest for it is only £18 a week all in to stay at the home.
“I don’t think George would miss the money and at the end I am sure he would consider it well spent.” Said Mr Unwin.
“I felt much the same way about the Beatles when they went off to India to discover all the mysteries of peace and relaxation.”
“They would have done it all here and at something less than a tenth of the cost.” he added.
Manchester United have replied to Mr Unwin’s letter pointing out that Mr O’Farrell is away on tour with the team.
But the reply adds that the invitation will be considered by the United Manager when he returns to this country. “