University of Cape Town: Queen calls UCT student’s lifesaving efforts ‘splendid work’

Tanner Gorille, a third-year student from the University of Cape Town (UCT), made headlines this week after he had the rare opportunity of ‘meeting’ and engaging with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England.

The 22-year-old Gorille attended the video call as one of two lifesavers who had been awarded the Royal Life Saving Society UK’s Russell Medal for saving a life via resuscitation.

The Society awarded Gorille in 2017 for his heroic rescue of a young woman in Cape Town. This following an incident on 16 December 2016 when Gorille saved a young woman he had spotted drowning. At the time, Gorille was on volunteer lifeguard duty at the Camps Bay tidal pool.

“By the time I got there, she was unconscious,” he recalled.

Gorille pulled her out of the tidal pool, onto the sand, and began performing CPR. Fortunately, his training paid off and he managed to resuscitate the woman and kept her stabilised until paramedics arrived.

This week, the Queen of England congratulated Gorille for his “splendid work”. She went on to ask him about where he is usually stationed and if he was still a volunteer lifesaver. After confirming that he is still very active in the DHL Clifton Surf Lifesaving Club, the Queen responded, saying that what he was doing was “wonderful”.

Being of service

The Queen praised Gorille and his fellow lifesaver, United Kingdom-based Sarah Downs, for “their lifesaving efforts, and putting the skills gained through their training with the Society into action”.


Queen Elizabeth II spoke to lifesavers and researchers via video call. Video The Royal Family.
Independent Online / The Weekend Argus reports that Gorille described the “opportunity of being in the company of royalty as ‘humbling’”, and that he was honoured to represent his club on an international platform.

Gorille, who is completing a BSocSci, is the vice-captain at his Clifton club. He joined the club as a volunteer lifesaver 10 years and what was initially an extramural activity quickly turned into his passion.

“I am not special. Anyone could do what I did and I am hoping to inspire others to do the same.

“Anyone who is keen [on] being of service to the community is welcome to join our club or any club and contribute by taking up lifesaving,” said Gorille in his Weekend Argus interview.

Comments are closed.