Howdenshire History

A Goole boy meets King George V: Jack Hewitt

Goole History > Goole People & Families > Jack Hewitt


From the Goole Times, 19th May 1911:



The value of learning to swim has been strikingly emphasised in Goole with the case last week when Jack Hewitt, aged 10, rescued from drowning a school friend named Richard Drury, who is the nine-year-old son of Councillor Drury, solicitor, of Goole.

Conspicuous bravery was shown by the lad Hewitt and, on his behalf, particulars of the case were sent to the Royal Humane Society [see below].

Last Thursday evening, when there was high water in the river, Drury was playing on the wharf that adjoins the packet wharf on the Hook Road bank. He ventured near the side and over-balancing fell into over ten feet of water. Hewitt heard the splash and running to the side saw only Drury's hands above the water. Without pausing a moment he threw off his shoes and jumped in. He got to the drowning boy and when they came to the surface they had been carried some yards out by the tide, which at this point runs very strongly.

Quickly Hewitt turned Drury on his back and being the stronger boy broke down his struggles. Slowly he paddled to the side of the wharf and then found it was impossible to get out without assistance, owing to the water being a yard or so below.

The alarm had however been raised by the persons on the bank and two young men lifted the two boys out of the water.

The hero, who is the son of Mr H. Hewitt, secretary of the Goole Swimming Club, has already won several awards for swimming, and he was able to swim a length of the Goole baths when seven years old. Last year, under Mr J. Sales, superintendent of the Goole baths, he underwent a course of instruction in life saving, and the knowledge he thus gained has early stood him in good stead. Although he did not enter the final examination, his instructor stated he was fully proficient.

When spoken to, young Hewitt seemed unaware of having done anything out of the ordinary. He had come on the bank just after leaving school, having been sitting for an examination. When pulled out of the water he looked at his wet and muddy clothes and in all probability remembered the after effects of a previous ducking in the river, when he remarked, "Well, what's a suit of clothes to a boy."

Describing his experience he said that he had jumped in, owing to his not diving very well.
"I thought I was never coming up again."




This was of course not the end of the matter and the local Press was able to report three months later that Jack Hewitt's heroism was to be publically more widely recognised.

From the Goole Times, 18th August 1911:



The Royal Humane Society on Tuesday dealt with a large number of cases of brave action in saving or attempting to save life from drowning. Many of the rescuers were boys who had been taught swimming at school. Chief interest to Goole people was the application on behalf of Jack Hewitt, of Marshfield Avenue, Goole. He was awarded the bronze medal and certificate.
In the particulars issued to the Press, Hewitt was described as a plucky youngster. He rescued a companion, Richard Drury, aged 9, from the Ouse at Goole on 11th May. Hewitt plunged, fully clothed, into ten or twelve feet of water with a strong tide running and brought his friend to the side, where they were both pulled out.




It was subsequently felt that an even higher award was merited, again reported in the local newspaper.

From the Goole Times, 8th September 1911:



On Friday, Mr John Huntington, J.P., C.C., received a telegram from Sir Joseph Compton- Rickett, M.P., stating that Jack Hewitt had been approved as a recipient of the King's Medal.

The telegram from Sir Joseph to Mr Huntington reads as follows: "Just received message from Home Secretary that the King has approved Albert Medal for Hewitt."

The boy's father, Mr H. Hewitt, the secretary of the Goole Swimming Club, has written to Sir Joseph, thanking him for his efforts in bringing the matter to the notice of the proper authorities.

Commander W.S. Atkin writes: "I think it will interest everyone to know that the award of the Albert Medal is exceptional and Jack Hewitt earned it by supreme disregard of his own life, and I trust that his action and its well merited reward will prove an incentive to others of our rising generation to cultivate the principles of self sacrifice and help to others."




All that remained was the presentation of the Albert Medal to Jack Hewitt by King George V,
and the final newspaper report, on the following page, describes his day at Buckingham Palace.

From the Goole Times, 13th October 1911:



Undoubtedly the most interesting figure at the presentation of medals at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday was Jack Hewitt, the eleven-year-old son of Mr and Mrs Hewitt, of Marshfield Avenue, Goole. He received from the King the Albert medal of the second class, awarded to him forsaving the life of Richard Drury, the nine-year old son of Councillor and Mrs A. W. Drury, of Salisbury Avenue.

Jack Hewitt is of a quiet and unassuming disposition,and when seen by one of our representatives on Tuesday evening, on his return to Goole, he answered all questions in the briefest possible manner. Later on, when at home, he was more communicative.

Undoubtedly what appealed to Jacky most when he was taken to the Throne Room were all the wonderful uniforms worn by the gentlemen.

"I was taken to the King," he said. "He was standing up, and a gentleman read a paper to him stating what I had done. Then the King took my medal off a beautiful cushion held by another gentleman. I had a pin fastened in my coat before I went into the room and the King hooked the medal onto the pin. The King then said, 'You are a plucky boy,' and he smiled at me. He held out his hand and I shook hands with him. Jacky said "he thought the King looked champion."

"He was standing up," he said, "and was dressed in a general's uniform. On his breast he had a lot of medals.

"Just as I was leaving the King I had to walk sideways," the boy continued. "A gentleman, who I was told was Mr Winston Churchill, handed me the paper he had read to the King. It has the King's arms on it, and Mr Churchill said to me, "You should be very proud of this. Take care of it and when you get home, have it framed."

Jacky had only one word for what he saw in the Palace. "Everything was champion," he remarked, and his eyes sparkled and showed that he had enjoyed himself.

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