I joined hundreds of people in Newton-le-Willows for a series of events to honour Norman Harvey VC, a local man who received the Victoria Cross a century ago for valour and gallantry while serving in the First World War.
Born in Newton on 6th April 1899, Norman enlisted in the 4th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment in November 1914, when he was only 15. He was transferred to the 1st Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in April 1918.
Norman was 19 when he won his VC medal on 25th October 1918.
Norman’s award recognised his actions in Ingoyhem, Belgium. When his battalion was held up and suffering severe casualties from machine-gun fire, he ran forward and engaged the enemy single-handed, killing two, wounding one and capturing 12 men and two guns.
After the War, Norman lived at Old Station in Parkside Road.
He re-enlisted for World War Two and was killed in action in 1942.
The commemorative events at the weekend began with the unveiling of a commemorative paving stone by the Mayor of St Helens at the War Memorial in Earlestown before a very moving service at St Peter’s Church in Newton, with Haydock Male Voice Choir and Valley Brass Band providing music and Captain Harry Smeldey reading the VC citation.
The service was followed by a parade led by the 103 Regiment Royal Artillery Pipes & Drums to Mesnes Park where, in the presence of Norman’s daughter Geraldine and other members of the family, the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside and the Colonel of 2 Royal Irish Regiment unveiled the dramatic sculpture of Norman Harvey created by Ray Lonsdale.
It was a very special day for Newton and a testament to the local community which turned out in huge numbers to respectfully honour the service and bravery of one of their own in his home town.