Granddaughter of hero pilot thanks volunteers for tribute to grandfather

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The granddaughter of a hero pilot who shot down an enemy airship over Hartlepool during the First World War has thanked volunteers for a tribute to her grandfather – all the way from South Africa.

Colleen Cumming, the maternal granddaughter of 2nd Lieutenant Ian Vernon Jeffrey Pyott, tracked down the Friends of Seaton Park group on the internet to thank them for their memorial to his heroism.

Deborah Jefferson (countryside officer) and Graeme Measor (friends of seaton park) with Seaton Carew Holy Trinity Primary school pupils  Eve Menzies, Ethan Moon, Harry Emerson, Hannah Wake, Clara Mackley, Sam Godfrey, Daisy Riches, Ben Grieg and Joseph Wale. Picture by FRANK REID

Deborah Jefferson (countryside officer) and Graeme Measor (friends of seaton park) with Seaton Carew Holy Trinity Primary school pupils Eve Menzies, Ethan Moon, Harry Emerson, Hannah Wake, Clara Mackley, Sam Godfrey, Daisy Riches, Ben Grieg and Joseph Wale. Picture by FRANK REID

It was after Colleen came across the Mail’s article of the unveiling of the £10,000 project by chance.

In an email to the Friends of Seaton Park group, which led the memorial project, she said: “Second Lt Ian Vernon Jeffrey Pyott was my maternal grandfather (my mother was his youngest child) and it was pure chance that we came across this article.

“None of the family had any idea of this commemoration, and honestly, although memories fade, we are all quite touched by this gesture.

“He was a wonderful man, and there are 10 of us grandchildren in South Africa and we all have extremely fond memories of him and my gran.”

None of the family had any idea of this commemoration, and honestly, although memories fade, we are all quite touched by this gesture

Colleen Cumming, granddaughter of 2nd Lt Ian Pyott

Hartlepool was hit by three German zeppelin bombing raids in the war. It was the attack on November 27, 1916 that Lt Pyott, a pilot for what was then called the Royal Flying Corps, is remembered.

The zeppelin had dropped bombs in around a park and Hartley Street killing four people.

Lt Pyott took off from Seaton Carew aerodrome, pursued the airship and hit it with incendiary bullets bringing it down 1,000 yards off the Heugh pier.

Two German pilots washed up on the shore were buried in Seaton Carew in January 1917.

The Friends of Seaton Park group secured £10,000 of lottery funding to replace two pillars at the entrance to the park on Station Lane and add a memorial plaque telling Lieut Pyott’s story.

Pupils from Holy Trinity Primary School in Seaton created dozens of tiles which are displayed on a wall. The unveiling ceremony took place last May.

Colleen added: “I just wanted to say ‘thank you’ on behalf of all the family for this tribute – Granddad would have been embarrassed but loved the idea of the children’s involvement – he loved children of all ages.”

Graeme Measor, of Friends of Seaton Park, said: “We did it to involve the community and increase awareness of local history. It is really touching she took the time to get in touch.”