Former Thorpe and Wroxham pub landlord John Parden won bravery award for river rescue

An award-winning Norfolk pub landlord, John Parden, who has died aged 78, was given an official bravery award for a 'very gallant rescue' as a teenager.

The 17-year-old jumped into the icy waters of the River Wensum on December 27, 1951 saving the life of a mother and her baby daughter.

The chief constable of Norwich, Alfred Plume, said that the rescuer, who was presented with a Royal Humane Society testimonial on vellum, had plunged into the 60ft wide river and despite the 'strong current' brought the two to safety.

The lord mayor of Norwich, Mr W E Walker, praised Mr Parden for 'his very brave act.'

Alerted by a passing motorist who had seen the young woman fall into the river at Hellesdon Bridge, Mr Parden got off his motorcycle and ran down the river bank.

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There, he took off his coat and boots and jumped in, grasped the woman and baby as they were floating downstream and swam to the opposite bank.

Mr Plume said that the delay in the award of the certificate, which was made on January 3, 1953 at Norwich City Magistrates' Court had been due to the death of the King.

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Mr Parden's widow said he never met the baby girl, whose life had been saved.

Neville William John Parden, who was always known as John, went to Hellesdon High School where he was head boy.

He ended his two years' National Service as a corporal in the Pay Corps and then went into sales, where he enjoyed considerable success with national food companies including Weetabix.

A keen cyclist, he was also won a county championship at the former Norwich cycle speedway track.

Later he went into the licensed trade, running the Harrow Tavern, just a mile from Wembley Stadium.

Returning to Norfolk, he and his wife, Jan, ran the King's Head, Wroxham, for about five years between 1982 and 1987, where they won the Pub of the Year Award for their �1.90 special meals.

They moved on to run the Rushcutters in Thorpe St Andrew, and later the White Hart, Boston, in south Lincolnshire.

After retiring from the trade in the late 1990s, they returned to Norfolk and lived at Mundesley.

A keen dog breeder, he showed with some success, notably his chihuahua and also a German spitz.

Married for 33 years, he is survived by his widow, Jan. He leaves two daughters, Tracey and Emily, two grandchildren and two great-granddaughters.

A funeral was held at St Faith's Crematorium on Tuesday, October 2.

Michael Pollitt

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