The Holman Family


Wolverton Express 1958
Retired railwayman Mr Fred Holman aged 65 of Bridge Cottage, Cosgrove, saved the life of a six year old boy in a gallant rescue from the canal last Friday afternoon. Called from his canal-side home, Mr Holman saw the boy, Stephen Thomas, go down and not re-appear. Partly wading and swimming across the canal he managed to recover the boy from the muddy bottom. Then with the aid of his daughter-in-law, Mrs J Holman [Phyllis Holman] artificial respiration was given, with the result that Stephen has made a full recovery.

The rescuers, Mrs Phyllis Holman, and her father-in-law Mr Fred Holman, with Stephen Thomas, fit and well again on Tuesday

Stephen and his two-year-older brother Mark had gone to the canal for a few hours’ fishing.

Mark told an Express reporter “We were just going to start fishing when Stephen slipped into the water. I ran shouting to Mr Holman and then ran home to tell mum that Stephen was in the water.”

Mrs Thomas said Stephen was all right the next morning.
“We realise that Mr Holman saved Stephen’s life, and of course, we are very grateful. I went and thanked Mr Holman and took him a bunch of flowers”, she said.

Mrs Thomas said her husband, who is a gardener at Cosgrove Hall, had always impressed upon the children that if they got into the water to float on their back, “But I expect Stephen got too scared to do that”, she added. “I expect his wellington boots kept him down.”

Mr Holman said, ”When I got to the bank, my daughter-in-law called out “There he is, Dad!” and I saw the boy just going down, as I understood, for the third time. He did not come up, and I kept my eye on the spot and waded and then swam to it. When I got to the other side of the canal I had to go under the water, which was up to my neck. I moved my foot and was lucky enough to touch the boy. I put my foot underneath him and lifted and he came up far enough for me to grab him with both hands. My daughter-in-law took the boy from me and helped me to get out.”

Mr Holman said the boy was stiff, but his daughter-in-law, who had experience in respiration while in the Girl Guides, weighed on the boy’s shoulder and water came out of his mouth. “He yelled, but I told her to keep on as it would clear his lungs”, he said.

Mrs Holman senior said: “Mark came running up shouting that his brother was in the water and we all three ran. I took a prop, as my husband had told me previously that if anyone is in the water they might grab at it”.

Her husband carried the boy to Bridge Cottage where he was dried and then put him into blankets. “I only hope that it will be a lesson to parents not to let their children go near the water alone until they can swim,” said Mrs Holman.

Mr Holman said it had been some years since he went into the water. “It was a funny sensation, as it was a cold day,” he added.

Lost his Voice

It is 36 years since Mr Holman was last “in the news”. Whilst serving in the 1914-18 war he was gassed in France. He was blind for four months and could not speak for years. Then one day he moved his lips to talk to his to his collie and his voice returned.

He worked in the millwright’s shop in Wolverton Works until retiring in June and was 65 last December.