Right time to honour a hero...
Heroes in life are few and far between, so when they emerge from the history of our community, their memory must be cherished.
Few will have heard of the exploits of Joseph Hodgson, but once heard, they can’t - and shouldn’t be forgotten.
His acts of heroism read like a boy’s own adventure.
Aged just 15, he got his first taste for heroism by leaping into the River Wear to save the life of a threeyear-old boy.
From that point on, lifesaving became his calling.
He joined the team of lifeboat volunteers who watched over the North East coastline and in a career spanning 50 years he took part in the rescue of 15 stricken ships as well as numerous people himself.
It earned him the memorable nickname of Stormy Petrel.
Even a move to London didn’t stop his lifesaving feats of heroism. The pinnacle being his award of a gold medal from Napoleon III, no less, after coming to the aid of a French schooner in distress in 1857.
Thanks to the diligent research of his great great granddaughters Christine Sexton and Debbie Scott his story has come to light.
His life did not, however, have a truly heroic end.
He died in poverty after having to sell his medals to survive and ended his days in a London slum.
That could have been the end of the story.
But Christine and Debbie have refused to let his memory die, and we are grateful for their efforts.
His story is inspirational and, in the run up the Tall Ships Race, it would be fitting to have one of our famous guardians of the coast recognised with a blue plaque.
His memory should be cherished in the community he served with honour.