A search for the owner of a First World War medal found at the bottom of a drained canal has led to a family of cousins meeting for the very first time.
The Victory Medal was found at the bottom of Aldwarke Lock near Rotherham as we were fitting new lock gates during important restoration works in January.
The medal was inscribed with the name W Clarke and, keen to reunite the medal with its rightful owner, we made a public appeal for anyone with any information that might help to come forward. It was following this appeal that, unknown to each other, separate members of the same family contacted us with details of their granddad.
Judy Jones, heritage advisor for the Trust explains: “After making the appeal I was contacted by over a dozen people with various bits of information but sadly none of them seemed to relate to the William Clarke I’m looking for. However it struck me that two of the people that got in touch were saying very similar things about their granddad, a different William Clarke, yet they didn’t appear to know about each other.
“It was only after making tentative enquiries that we discovered that the family didn’t know about their Grandad’s first son and therefore didn’t realise that there was another cousin, Bill Clarke. It’s an amazing story and I’m really pleased that we’ve been able to put the family back in touch.”
Now cousins Terry Hardy and Kevin Whatley can, for the first time, meet up regularly with Bill who lives less than five miles away.
Terry said: “On behalf of the family I’d really like to thank everyone who’s helped to put us in touch with each other. I’d particularly like to thank Judy for making the connection to my cousin Bill as previously I knew nothing about him. It’s fantastic that we can all now meet up and, thanks to the Canal & River Trust, The York and Lancaster Regimental Museum & the Rotherham Archives we’re able to piece together more of our family’s history.”
Meanwhile the search for the owner of the medal continues as Judy Jones explains: “Sadly many war records were destroyed during the Second World War so the trail stops at a certain point. However we’ll keep plugging away and hopefully there will be another happy ending for this story”.
The medal was found during our winter programme of restoration and repairs, which sees painstaking works carried out on historic canal walls, locks and lock gates across the country.