A guest on the Antiques Roadshow was left amazed at the value of a medal awarded to her uncle after a North East mining disaster.

The woman appeared on Sunday night’s episode of the popular BBC programme, which was the second of two episodes to take place at Woodhorn Museum near Ashington. She brought a George Cross that belonged to her uncle, John Hutchinson, with the medal being the highest award of bravery for an action not in the face of the enemy.

Mr Hutchinson, a miner at the Louisa Colliery near Stanley, got the award for gallantry for saving five men in a mining disaster in August 1947. He had just finished a shift when a buzzer went off to notify of an accident below, with Mr Hutchinson one of the rescuers who managed to get five men out alive.

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Unfortunately, 21 men died in total in the accident, the youngest just 18 years old. Originally, Mr Hutchinson would have been awarded the Edward Medal for Mines but this would have been changed for the George Cross in 1971.

Expert Mark Smith said: “It’s not a monetary thing because he was your uncle, but in the open world it is a monetary thing and it’s worth £20,000. I get to meet these people, I’m always humbled. To meet John today is a very rare pleasure.”

The guest was clearly moved and said: “Oh gosh! He was a very brave man, he didn’t need to go down that day.”

And in a later scene, she admitted that she was shocked by the value, and said: “When I was small, I took it into primary school and told them the story. I never thought about the value, just took it in in my school bag.”

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The Cross wasn’t the only item that came with an astonishing value. Another guest brought two enamelled toasting glasses that had links to the Freemasons and were made by Newcastle’s William Beilby. Originally having spotted them at auction with a price of £70, he had recognised their value and ended up in a bidding war with a competitor, taking the price he paid to just shy of £6,000.

However, he was left surprised when antique expert Andy McConnell revealed the current value of his set. In 2009, the British Museum had bought a set of the same type of glasses for £12,000, while similar sets have gone for £6,000 and £8,000 in recent years.

But the value of the set the guest had brought to Woodhorn was an eye-watering £16,000, to which the guest could only reply: “Wow.”

Mr McConnell was visibly thrilled, saying: ” What a pleasure, these are by far the most expensive glasses I’ve had in 16 years of the roadshow. I’m so made up with these so cheers to you and William Beilby!”

There were a few other notable moments during the programme too. One guest’s Rolex that his father had left him was valued at £14,000, and an original sign from the Gateshead Trinity Square car park, where Get Carter was filmed, was valued at £600 – £800. To catch up on Antiques Roadshow, go to BBC iPlayer.

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published 2022-05-12 21:29:57