Village remembers Victoria Cross soldier who fought in First World War

Private Thomas Kenny, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery.
Private Thomas Kenny, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery.

Respects will be paid to a war hero when his community gathers for the unveiling of a commemorative stone in his honour.

Crowds are expected to gather in Wheatley Hill tomorrow to remember Private Tommy Kenny, a First World War soldier who was awarded Britain’s highest honour for valour.

Money raised by National Lottery players is ensuring these stories and their legacies are shared and is enabling incredible figures such as Thomas Kenny to be honoured.

Ivor Crowther, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the North East

South Wingate-born Pte Kenny received the Victoria Cross (VC) for his ‘conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty’ when carrying an injured officer through No Man’s Land while under enemy fire.

The stone honouring his courage is set to be unveiled at Wheatley Hill Cemetery, exactly 100 years after his act of heroism.

More than 50 members of Pte Kenny’s family are expected to attend alongside Councillor Jan Blakey, the chairman of Durham County Council, and Sue Snowdon, Lord Lieutenant of County Durham.

The stone is the first of seven to be laid across County Durham over the next three years as part of a national initiative to provide a lasting legacy for those who received the VC.

The ceremony has been jointly funded by East Durham AAP, the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) Then and Now Programme and Wheatley Hill Parish Council.

Coun Jan Blakey said: “Thomas Kenny was an extremely brave man and a deserved recipient of the Victoria Cross.

“It is only right and fitting that he should be honoured in the community he returned to after the First World War.”

Ivor Crowther, head of HLF North East, said: “Money raised by National Lottery players is ensuring these stories and their legacies are shared and is enabling incredible figures such as Thomas Kenny to be honoured.”

The ceremony starts at 11am but people wishing to attend are asked to arrive by 10.30am and Wheatley Hill Heritage Centre, inside the cemetery gates, will be open from 10am.

Read more about Thomas Kenny’s story on the Durham at War website visit www.durhamatwar.org.uk/story/11173/.