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The Day Before Yesterday: 119 - Brave Lads

Gladys Schofield recalls with pride how her children were commended for public service.

The large wall at the back of the two properties hid an 'old people's home' from our view. You reached it by going along a lane, running at the side of next door. We often saw elderly people coming and going down that lane.

It wasn't long after the cat incident when Susan and her friends, twelve and fourteen year olds, decided to do a spot of detective work. They saw an old man knocked to the ground on this lane and his wallet taken. This thief, not thinking the children had witnessed this, set off down the main road. The children followed him and noticed he entered the grounds of another 'old people's residence' called St Lukes Hospital, a few hundred yards down the road.

The police were informed and the man identified and caught. That incident was on the television that evening and the children praised for their diligence. We were making our name known in this district.

It was hard work but a very peaceful house and the memory of it has always been foremost in the children's minds. They had lots of room to play, being secure within the large walled gardens. The right of the drive was planted in bushes with little winding paths leading to a sunken garden, which was flagged at the bottom for a rest place. Ideal for the children to play their games of make believe. We almost invented a new language as they had their own names for different things. The little path secluded again, wound in and out of bushes and came out by the garage, this was so big as it had once housed a coach, before cars were used.

Cellars ran under this property. One housed the fuel for the central heating, another part had been fitted with several bunks made of wood. This acted as an air raid shelter during the war years. The kitchen was built up at the "back with about eight steps from the kitchen door to ground level. I had a birdseye view from the back kitchen window, looking down I could see the children playing or the older boys forever doing something in the garage. Alan had picked up an old car, they had to push it into the garage and I'm afraid it never got well enough to come out again. We had also changed our little black Ford Popular for a green model. It was a Ford Consul, a bit more roomy and also more modern.

I was ironing one evening near the window and saw two Policemen making their way to the garage, where Cliff was doing something to his car. My heart went into my boots as only one thing brought Policemen to your door these days and we had three sons, the youngest fourteen. They were asking if David was home. I could see one of the men was a Sergeant and they were now making their way up my kitchen steps accompanied by Cliff.

"Do you know where David is?" Cliff asked. "No" said I, "he must be bicycling with his two friends. What has he done?" The Sergeant met my worried look and smiling said "We need all three of them to call at the Police Station to thank them properly for bravery. They pulled a six year old boy out of the canal at the weekend. He would have drowned had they not acted promptly. It's not often we get a chance to thank boys their age, for doing something good".

We asked David when he came home later why he hadn't said anything about this. He said "They had decided to say nothing, as they didn't want any fuss". They had taken the little boy to his home and told his mother where they had found him. She took him inside without a word of thanks and looked as though she would give the child a smack, not a cuddle, so the lads decided to say no more about it. It so happened one of his friends, had a policeman for a father and that's how it had got to the Police Station. That also found it's way into the paper.


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