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Six year old saved from river after falling from a tree

Year 1844

Read by Justina Gilbert – Trustee, Royal Humane Society

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August 10, 1844

On the 10th August 1844, as Miss Sarah Wilkinson, governess in the family of the Rev. L O. Booth, of Burstead Lodge, Twickenham Common, accompanied by Miss Emma Collins, a visitor at Mr. Booth’s, was sitting with two of Mr. Booth’s children, reading on the bank of the powder-mill river, which is a very rapid stream, the youngest of the children, about six years of age, climbed unseen on a tree which grew over the river, and suddenly fell in.

Miss Collins hurried round the stem of the tree, and seeing the child struggling in the water, was so unnerved as to be unable to assist it; but Miss Wilkinson jumped into the stream without a moment’s hesitation, at a spot where the depth of water was to her unknown, and with great difficulty, from the rapidity of the stream and the water being four to five feet deep, caught hold of the child’s foot, and held it for two or three minutes, until Miss Collins came to her assistance, when by increased exertions the child was rescued. Another moment’s delay on the part of Miss Wilkinson in jumping in would have been fatal to the child, who would have floated, by the rapidity of the water, to a part of the bank intersected by a thick hedge, which it would have been impossible for her to have passed. Miss Wilkinson immediately fainted on being taken out of the water and was afterwards confined to her bed with high fever for three weeks.

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