The Hartlepool schoolboy who became a rescue hero

Francis collects his prize from the Mayor of West Hartlepool, Coun Mrs T Breward.
Francis collects his prize from the Mayor of West Hartlepool, Coun Mrs T Breward.

Francis Fitzpatrick was something of a hero in 1956 - and the ultimate animal lover as well.

The eight-year-old rescued a puppy from drowning in Ward Jackson Park and won the praise of animal welfare and council representatives.

This medal is not being given for kindness to an animal. That is recognised as a duty everyone should perform. The presentation is to mark the courage involved in saving the life of a puppy in such cirumstances

Coun Mrs T Breward, mayor of West Hartlepool

He got a medal and a book for his efforts in a presentation at the annual meeting of the Hartlepools and District RSPCA.

The presentation was performed by the Mayor of West Hartlepool. Coun Mrs T Breward who said at the time: “This medal is not being given for kindness to an animal. That is recognised as a duty everyone should perform.

“The presentation is to mark the courage involved in saving the life of a puppy in such cirumstances.”

As well as the reward, Francis also received the gift of a book token which was a personal gift from the Mayor.

The meeting also heard of the other problems facing the RSPCA in the Hartlepool area at the time.

Senior inspector GW Spencer gave his annual report which told how animals had been “getting themselves into awkward places.”

One instance involved a golden hamster which disappeared through a small hole in the wall of a house in Graythorp and got into the cavity wall.

A kitten got into the main sewer at South Hetton and yards of road had to be taken up. Both hamster and kitten were recovered.

And a swan badly damaged its wing by flying into overhead wires near Greatham.

Who can tell us more about the heroics of Francis Fitzpatrick?

Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk