Ramsbottom family make emotional appearance on Antiques Roadshow

Bury Times: From left, at the Vallois Bayonne war cemetery, Fiona Bruce, Lois Bliss, Joanne Bliss and Dora Gartside From left, at the Vallois Bayonne war cemetery, Fiona Bruce, Lois Bliss, Joanne Bliss and Dora Gartside

THERE was pride as well as poignancy for a Ramsbottom family who featured in an emotional six-minute slot on BBC TV’s Antiques Roadshow on Sunday.

Millions of viewers saw Joanne Bliss tell how her hero grandfather, Joel Halliwell, won the Victoria Cross in France during World War One after saving 10 comrades.

But in an emotional conclusion to the interview she, together with her mother Dora Gartside, and her 15-year-old daughter Lois, were shown the grave of Mr Halliwell’s brother, Tom, who was killed in the Somme while serving with the Border Regiment.

Programme presenter Fiona Bruce gave a tearful 83-year-old Mrs Gartside a simple poppy on a wooden cross which she placed on the grave she had never seen before.

The three generations of the same family were featured in the Antiques Roadshow programme specifically dedicated to World War One, and they had travelled out to France for the filming last July.

During the broadcast, the family spoke about the heroism of Lance Corporal Halliwell who, while serving with the Lancashire Fusiliers in Muscourt, France, in 1918, was awarded the highest military honour.

Mrs Bliss, aged 43, an NHS worker, said: “He captured an enemy horse and rode out into no man’s land 10 times altogether and brought back the wounded and then walked for miles, I believe, to bring back water for them and he only stopped when the horse collapsed. It was miraculous he wasn’t hit himself.”

The TV interview, conducted at the cemetery at Vallois Bayonne, ended when Joanne, her mum and daughter, who attends Canon Slade School in Bolton, were shown the grave of Lance Corporal Halliwell’s brother, Tom, who died from injuries sustained at the Somme in 1916.

Joel Halliwell, who hailed from Middleton, survived the war and was given a hero’s welcome on his return. He died in 1958 at the age of 76.

Speaking after the broadcast, Mrs Bliss said: “We got involved after watching an earlier Antiques Roadshow prog-ramme when Fiona Bruce put out an appeal for World War One stories.”

She said the visit to the grave of her grandfather’s brother was particularly emotional. Mrs Bliss added: “They told our story the way we wanted it to be told.”

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