Two families linked by a heroic rescue 90 years ago have been reunited.
On August 3, 1926, three-year-old George Blake was rescued from the fast flowing tidal River Haven by 27-year-old police officer Samuel Pope.
And now George’s daughter Anne Halliday and Samuel’s granddaughter Sue Robinson came together following an appeal on social media over an old black and white photograph of the PC.
“As girls my sister and I would look at the photograph in a silver frame of a policeman on our grandparents’ lounge wall, and they would tell us the story of how he had saved our dad’s life,” explained Anne.
“The picture moved from house to house, but always took pride of place, naturally. Although my grandparents both died some years ago, my uncle continued to live in their house, so I always thought the photo was safe. However, when I asked him if I could borrow it for copying, it had disappeared, it’s a mystery as to where.
“I decided to try to trace Samuel’s family if possible, in the hope that they too would have the photo, and did so by using various websites.
“Having been able to find the surname of one of Samuel’s grandsons, I made contact and received a reply from him. About a week after this, his sister Sue, Samuel’s granddaughter, was posting an enquiry on the ‘Boston Memories’ Facebook site, asking if anyone knew what had happened to George, the little boy her granddad had saved.
“My daughter saw this, and responded straight away. It was a very emotional point for us all, and we were stunned to find that Sue lived within a couple of minutes of my daughter’s mother-in-law in a town in Northamptonshire. My son-in-law’s sisters and Sue’s children knew each other. I still can’t get over that coincidence.”
With both Anne and Sue keen to meet, the most obvious place was were the events of 90 years ago unfolded.
Anne, who says she has ‘always treasured’ a report of the incident from The Standard, added: “My sister came along and after enjoying a look through a scrapbook containing photos and mementos of Samuel, we ventured out to have a look around.”
Included in the keepsakes is the King’s Police Medal, awarded in the New Year’s Honours list of January 1927. As well as this, Samuel received a barometer from the Royal Humane Society, which also remains a treasured possession of his family.
A copy of a letter inviting Samuel for interview to join the police force states that ‘only strong swimmers would be entertained’, a rule of the then Chief Constable.
It also appears, that Samuel may have in fact saved another member of the Blake family. After the war when George was married and had a baby daughter, she started to turn blue. At this point, he ran to the nearest telephone box, where he found the on-duty PC Pope having a cigarette, who calmly told him ‘leave it to me’.
Anne said: “I didn’t find that photograph, but did find a new friend, someone who is rightly very proud of her granddad.
“I think this is an interesting story in itself, apart from the fact that I would not exist if it was not for the bravery of this fine man.
“I have two heroes, one is my father, I could not have had better, the other is Samuel Pope.”