COWES, ISLE OF WIGHT
Son of George Don Piggott of 34 Birmingham Road, Cowes and Noela his Wife
Register Comment: Joint Funeral, Buried in Same Coffin as His Mother (Barry S)
Isle of Wight County Press Saturday 28th March 1959
No one will ever really know how a young Cowes mother and her son were drowned off a slipway at Cowes on Wednesday week. The only witness to the tragedy, which cost the lives of Mrs Noela Piggott (23) of 34 Birmingham Road, Cowes and her two-year-old son, Stewart Don, was Mrs Piggott’s four-year-old niece.
The little girl, Susan Dawn Pugsley, of 9 Beckford Road, Cowes, was herself dragged from the sea with the dead couple but was revived by artificial respiration and later received hospital treatment.
At the adjourned inquest in Ryde Town Hall on Wednesday, the Deputy Assistant Coroner (Mr H H Johnson) listened to Susan’s evidence as it was told by her uncle and received verdicts of misadventure in the case of both mother and son.
Susan’s uncle, Archibald Edward Ridgley, of The Caravan, Somerton Garage, Cowes, said that, since Susan came out of hospital on Friday week, she had been living with him and she had told him about the accident. She said, “Stewart fell in the water, then Noela fell in and then I fell in; it wasn’t very nice” He had been unable to find out from Susan if Mrs Piggott had jumped in or fallen in but had the impression that Mrs Piggott, who could not swim, had gone in after her son and then Susan had fallen in trying to help her auntie.
Frank Leslie Herbert Gaze, of 18 Tennyson Road, Cowes, said that about 3:30pm on Wednesday week he was walking down Watch House Slip at Cowes when he noticed three bodies in the water. The sea was rough and there was quite a strong wind. He ran to the Customs House for help.
Arthur James Clarke, a Customs Officer, said he was on duty in the watch room of the customs office when Mr Gaze shouted at him. He saw three bodies in the water between the Watch House Slip and the Island Sailing Club slip. When he went down to the beach the bodies were within an arms reach of the shore. He pulled the small boy out first, then the little girl and he and a colleague brought out the mother. They commenced artificial respiration on the children and got some response, but when they tried to revive the mother, there was no response.
Gertrude Kate Ridgley of 2 West Hill Road, Cowes said Mrs Piggott was her daughter and on the day of the accident had called at her house with Stewart and then took the boy and Susan out for a walk. She was going to collect a key for her new flat and was in very good spirits. She was a person who enjoyed life to the full. It was her daughter’s habit to take the children to the slipway to feed the swans.
Dr William Patrick Kelly said that when he reached the slipway he found the woman lying near the waters edge and the two children lying further up the slipway. Police and Customs Officers were giving artificial respiration. He gave the mother and the children injections and both children showed signs of reviving, but the woman showed no signs of life. Artificial respiration was continued, however, until the ambulance arrived and when firemen arrived, oxygen was administered. Dr Kelly said he was very impressed by the action taken by all the officers concerned. “I think their action was extremely commendable” he said and I am quite sure that if it had not been for the quick action of the Customs men and the Police, all three would certainly have died.
Dr P D Swinstead (pathologist) said that post mortem examinations had shown that both mother and son died from drowning. There were slight abrasions on the head of the mother, but these were of a minor nature.
Recording a verdict of misadventure the Coroner said he fully endorsed all that Dr Kelly had said about the prompt action that was taken. If it had not been for Mr Gaze and the subsequent action of the Customs men and the Police, undoubtedly the little girl would have lost her life as well.
The funeral service for Mrs Piggott and her son was conducted at the house on Monday by Captain G Westwood, commanding officer of the Cowes Salvation Army Corps.
Family mourners were Mr G D Piggott (husband), Mr & Mrs F Ridgley (father & mother), Mr & Mrs H Jackman and Mr & Mrs H Warren (brothers-in-law and sisters), Mr & Mrs A Ridgley and Mr & Mrs Austin Ridgley (brothers & sisters-in-law), Mr K Pugsley (brother-in-law) and Mr H Haley & Mr V Williams (cousins).
There were more than 40 floral tributes including those from the FOB section of J S White & Co Ltd, the Salvation Army and J S White’s football club. Interment followed at Northwood Cemetery.
The arrangements were made by Messrs W G Thomas