Monday, 4 January 2016

Heroes among us

The people living in our homes have some wonderful stories to tell.

One of the best we came across recently concerns a man called George Walker, who lives in one of our homes in Consett.

In 1960 George, was heading south on the A1, near Thirsk, to deliver a lorry full of heavy steel bars. Suddenly, a trailer which was carrying workmen broke free from the truck carrying it and swerved in front of him.

Realising in all likelihood that the men would be killed if he didn’t take action, George swerved his vehicle off the road.

Hitting the verge at speed caused the steel bars he was carrying to fly through the front of the cab and one of them went right through his leg, pinning him to vehicle.

George was rushed to hospital and it was initially thought his leg would need to be amputated, but luckily doctors managed to save it and after a long recovery he was eventually able to return to driving.

When news of his bravery got out, George received The Order of Industrial Heroism, a private civil award given by the Daily Herald newspaper to recognise the deeds of valour of those who had saved their fellow workers from danger or death. It was popularly known as the "Workers' VC”.

The award was given out from 1923 to 1964 (when the Daily Herald ceased publishing) and only 440 people were honoured with it, many of them posthumously. George was the 401st person to receive it.

Like me, I am sure many of you were unaware that such an award existed, but I think it’s wonderful that ‘normal’ people were recognised for bravery in this way and whilst similar awards are still given out now, it’s nice to know one of our residents is part of an elite club.

If you know anyone else who has also received this award, I would love to find out more.

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