Family remembers Gosport boy-hero who saved baby from harbour

From left, Brian Durrant, his father Peter Durrant, 89, and Pauline McKay. Picture: Malcolm Wells (143130-5371)
From left, Brian Durrant, his father Peter Durrant, 89, and Pauline McKay. Picture: Malcolm Wells (143130-5371)
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GENERATIONS of a family gathered to remember a boy-hero who dived into chilly waters to save a baby’s life.

Percy Durrant was an 11-year-old Scout in Gosport when he saw a pram rolling along the old pontoon into the harbour and almost-certain death for the baby boy 100 years ago yesterday.

He jumped in, got the baby out and handed him to the boy’s mother.

His brave actions saved the child – and earned him a bravery award from Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouts.

Speaking at the remembrance service held at Falkland Gardens, Percy’s son Peter Durrant, 89, of Victory Court, said: ‘I’ve always been proud of my dad.

‘He never spoke about it – a picture was on the wall and he just said “I got that when I was a boy Scout, I jumped into the harbour and got a boy out”.’

The ceremony was planned after Peter’s son Brian Durrant, 60, of Coach Hill, Titchfield, carried out research into the rescue this year.

Standing close to where the pram shot into the water, Brian told family members of the brave feat – carried out in weather conditions similar to those yesterday.

Brian said: ‘It’s a marvellous achievement to have someone in the family who has done something as brave as that.

‘To actually dive into the harbour is no mean feat.’

He added it was common for young children to play in the mud at the harbour and his grandfather would have been confident in the water – although Percy did get a clip round the ear from his dad for getting his clothes wet.

His actions earned him sixpence a year from the child’s grateful mother, whose name was Mrs Turner.

Percy, who died aged 51, did not speak of the day to his children but a medal of merit award, given to him in February 1915 and signed by Baden-Powell, marks his astonishing achievement.

Youngsters from 6th Gosport Scout Group – the same group Percy was in – attended the remembrance service and were inspired by the tale.

Aaron Hazzard, 10, a pupil at Bedenham Primary School, said: ‘Percy is a local hero. I wish I could be that brave.’

Percy’s grandaughter Pauline McKay, 64, from Fareham added: ‘You look at the children around here and you think at that age to do that it was brilliant. He must have been very brave. A lot of people would stand there and think about it for a while but he just jumped.’

n Was it your dad or grandad who was saved from the harbour by Mr Durrant? If you know, please call the Newsdesk on (023) 9262 2118.