The August Bank Holiday is here and while most are letting their hair down, for one young girl it was moments away from ending in tragedy.
The Eccles and Patricroft Journal of August 1966 told how Deborah Hayes was playing on the canal bank near Parrin Lane bridge with her five-year-old brother Adrian and another young girl.
Somehow Deborah fell into the water and being so young, her friends had no chance of her pulling out.
Fortunately because of the Bank Holiday a group of men were fishing further along the canal bank.
Fred Wharmby, 27, of Stanley Road in Peel Green was enjoying an afternoon’s fishing with his brother, Gordon, 33, and his father in law, Harry Flack, 54.
They had been on the canal for several hours in an attempt to land the ‘big one’ when they heard the girl’s screams and cries for help.
Fred told the Journal: “I looked into the distance and saw something splashing in the water and at first I thought it was a dog swimming near the side, I decided I’d better make sure and went towards the spot.
“It was then that I could see that it was a little girl.
“I threw off my leather jacket and raced to the scene, she had disappeared beneath the water but her head popped up, so I jumped in and pulled her to the canal bank where my brother Gordon lifted her out of the water.”
Miss Joan Grieves, 37, who lived at Verdun Road, was alerted by the sound of the shouting and rushed to help.
She took the little girl into her house and turned her upside down to empty the water out of her.
There was reportedly a horrible wait.
Luckily, Deborah was responsive and started crying, a sign that she could breathe unaided.
They wrapped her up in a blanket to keep the tot from shivering and phoned for an ambulance.
Meanwhile Deborah’s younger brother Adrian had raced home to tell his mother Marjorie what had happened, she was occupied looking after her two other children, Beverley and Brendan.
Adrian blurted out that Deborah was in the water: the mum’s first thought was that she was in a paddling pool, but when he mentioned boats, she quickly realised the seriousness of the situation and panic-stricken rushed to the canal, fearing the worse.
You can only imagine her relief when she met Joan Grieves who told her that her child was safely wrapped up in her house.
The ambulance arrived and the relieved mother and daughter went to Hope Hospital to check that she was okay.
As for our hero, Fred Wharmby, he had to go to his father in laws house in Anson Street for a much needed bath and change of clothes and the day’s fishing was abandoned.
Do you know Deborah Hayes or her lifesaver Fred Wharmby? Please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on Facebook.