Heritage centre open in new Hunstanton premises
The new premises of the Hunstanton Heritage Centre opened at the former NatWest bank last Saturday and within hours had a visit with someone with important information on victims of the 1953 floods.
Joanne Ellis visited and was able to confirm that her aunt, Dorothy Martin, originally from Widnes in Lancashire, was married to Russell O Martin, a US Airman, from Virginia.
Dorothy, aged 22, had two sons Russell O Junior, aged 22 months and John W Martin, 11 months.
The family had lived at 3 Avenue Road, but were living next door but one to Neil Quincey’s family in South Beach Road when the tidal surge claimed their lives on January 31, 1953.
The very first page in the 1953 year book for the USAF base at RAF Sculthorpe is dedicated to the 16 American victims of the Flood and Tempest, which includes Dorothy and the two young boys.
The following day, Col Shelley Rodriguez visited the Heritage Centre before dropping in on Mr Quincey for tea and cakes, in celebration of his 94th birthday, which is on June 27.
Col Rodriguez was commander of the USAF 67th Special Operations Squadron in 2012 when the squadron celebrated its 60th anniversary with a parade in Hunstanton, and in 2013 when members of the 67th took part in a ceremony commemorating the 60th anniversary of the floods.
Shelley said: “I was so pleased to see the twinning sign on Redgate Hill. I went back to take a picture of it!”
The same was true of former RAF Flight Sergeant Mark Service, the official historian of the 67th, who initiated all of the events culminating in the Freedom of the town ceremony in 2014 and the fwinning in 2016.
He was in town with his wife Liz, also to visit Mr Quincey, but he too called in at the Heritage Centre.
Impressed by the premises, he said: “It’s wonderful to see the high quality displays and exhibits housed in such a distinctive building.”