First World War hero’s goblet award back in family hands

Sylvia Jay, successfully bid for her late grandfather's hero award

Sylvia Jay, successfully bid for her late grandfather's hero award - Credit: Archant

An inscribed silver goblet awarded to a First World War hero is back in the hands of his family.

The 88-year-old granddaughter of Pilot George Joseph Hayman, of Gorleston, beat an auction phone bidder to pay £650 – fearing the goblet would be melted down for its scrap value. It was her first visit to an auction.

The goblet had been presented by the Board of the Admiralty to George Hayman for 'Saving the crew of HM Drifter Ethnee' on January 18, 1918.

It had a guide price of up to £400, and was accompanied by a newspaper cutting declaring Gorleston Pilot Saves Crew and was auctioned on Thursday at Lockdales Auctioneers of Martlesham.

The Ethnee was a 'hired drifter' – rented by the Admiralty from her owner to stand as a net barrier tender to foil German U boats off the Kent coast at Deal. North Shields-built Ethnee 'was lost' on nearby Goodwin Sands and Navy reports state there were no casualties.

Mr Hayman's eldest granddaughter Sylvia Jay of Ipswich was shocked to learn of the sale, and had no previous knowledge of the act of bravery or the goblet, describing her grandfather as a very private man.

As a sea pilot he would board ships and take them over to safely guide them into port.

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He lived in Lowestoft Road, Gorleston, where he later owned a garage, and died in 1958 at the age of 78, leaving a widow.

Mrs Jay was taken to the auction by her niece's husband and decided to bid for the goblet to get it back into the family, despite going over what she had hoped to pay.

She said: 'It is a family heirloom now and I can see it every day. The auctioneers were so pleased I got it.

'It was expensive, but I was determined. It is nearly 100 years old and he was my granddad. We just wish we knew who had put it into the auction.'

Do you have a story about a family heirloom? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk