VIDEO: Wigan war hero's medals are finally in his hometown
'After 75 years, seeing these four medals together is wonderful.'
Those were the words of Veronica Ashton, beaming with pride as her grandfather’s war medals - including his Victoria Cross - were put on display at the Museum of Wigan Life.
Thomas Woodcock was honoured for his bravery on the frontline during the First World War, but was sadly killed in action just a few months later.
But his memory certainly lives on in his home town, 100 years after his death.
A ceremony was held at the museum yesterday - the same date as his act of valour - to open the display containing his four medals.
It is thought to be the first time they have been on display to the public in Wigan.
Mrs Ashton, from Whelley, said: “I saw the four medals, as I’m seeing them today, 75 years ago in Grandma Woodcock’s house. She had them in a glass case, the four medals together, on her wall in her home in Cambridge Street. I was about nine or 10 years old at the time and that was the last time I saw them together.”
The Victoria Cross is usually on display at the Irish Guards’ regimental headquarters in London.
But Maureen O’Bern, from Wigan Libraries, asked if it could be loaned to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.
His family has been to London to see it, but is delighted it is finally in Wigan.
His granddaughter Julie Greenwood, of Standish, said: “As the family we always felt it should be in Wigan for the Wigan people to come and view, without having to travel to London.”
The opening ceremony included speeches by Mrs Ashton and historians Tom Walsh and Terry Atherton, who travelled from Canada.
A poem was read by pupils from St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School in Scholes, which L/Cpl Woodcock attended.
Mr Walsh said: “I would never have thought of ringing the museum so it’s wonderful they have done it, especially 100 years after he died.”
Council leader Coun David Molyneux said: “It’s a very moving tribute and a big thank you to the Irish Guards and family of Thomas Woodcock. We are very proud of Thomas in Wigan.”
Mayor of Wigan Coun Sue Greensmith said it was “absolutely marvellous” to have the medals in Wigan. She officially opened a Scholes street named in his honour - Woodcock Walk - last year.
Joan Livesey, from the museum, said: “It’s such an honour for the museum to be able to display something of local and national importance. He is an absolute hero.”
The medals can be seen until the end of November.