Canvey flood baby identity revealed 60 years on

Canvey flood baby identity revealed 60 years on

Then - PC Pilgrim carries Judy through the flood water

Now - sisters Pamela Kendrick and Judy Dolby

First published in News

IT WAS one of the most iconic images of the Canvey floods, the small girl being carried to safety in a policeman’s arms.

But for 60 years, mystery surrounded who the girl was and what had happened to her.

Now her story can be told for the first time.

Judy Dolby, whose maiden name was Taggart, had just turned three when flood waters submerged Canvey on January 31, 1953.

The disaster claimed the lives of 58 people, but Judy survived after being carried to safety by PC Bill Pilgrim from her home in Long Road.

Judy, 63, who now lives in Leigh, remembers nothing of that night, but was always keen to tell the story behind the famous photograph and finally put a name to the “unknown child”.

She said: “There’s been so much coverage on the floods and I really wanted to put a name to the photo, we might not be here for the 70th anniversary.”

Judy and her sister Pamela Kendrick, 67, who was seven-years-old at the time of the floods, were back on Canvey on Friday to witness the unveiling of a new commemorative plaque.

Pamela, from Rayleigh, has vivid memories of what happened that night. She said: “I remember getting up and seeing water in the garden, I could hear it swishing around and I told my parents.

“The people next door said the island was flooded and we had to get our things together and leave, but I don’t remember my parents panicking, they took it all in their stride.”

The Taggarts went to stay with friends, the Seago family, in Benfleet, so had to leave behind their bungalow with their mum Pat, while dad Eric stayed behind with their German Shepherd Max to help with the rescue effort.

However, Pamela had to make her own way through the water carrying a suitcase - something which the sisters have joked about ever since.

Judy said: “It’s always been a bone of contention that I was carried by the policeman.”

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