Susan Harris (1946-1966) was known for her bravery in saving the life of a young boy who had fallen into the River Nadder. She tragically lost her life while trying to save him.Susan was a 20-year old student from Cornwall, who had grown up living with her family in the Old Rectory at Rame. At the time of her death, she was training to be a teacher at Sarum St Michael College in Salisbury and had plans to marry her fiancé the following autumn. On the afternoon of March 16th 1966, she was cycling along the Town Path inHarnham when she heard that a young boy had fallen into the River Nadder and was having difficulties. She was a strong swimmer, so she swam to the boy and pulled him out of immediate danger but unfortunately both of them were dragged under with the strongcurrents of the river. The young boy was subsequently rescued by a teenager but Susan did not survive.
Susan’s ashes are buried in the churchyard of St Germanus Church at Rame. She received several posthumous awards for bravery, including the Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct by the London Gazette, and an ‘In Memoriam’ Testimonial by the Royal Humane Society. Susan left a legacy through the Susan Harris Award, which was given to children at the Plymouth school where she had done her teaching practice. In Cornwall, a fund was set up for one child a year to have a holiday.
Susan’s memory also lives on in Salisbury. A memorial window by John Hutton was installed at the Old Deanery when it was part of the College. This was moved to Salisbury Cathedral in 1978 and can still be found there today. In 2008, the Susan Harris memorial bench and plaque were installed on the Town Path in Harnham and a special memorial service was held for Susan.
Written by S.Ali and edited by Annie Hotton.
Photo credit: Photo of Susan by kind permission of Kay Blake nee Hutchings
Dalton, Brian, 2007, 1966 Old Mill Bravery to be remembered.
Riddle, Annie, 2008, Salisbury Journal, Heroine teacher honoured.
Parker, Margaret, 2016. Rame Churchyard Tales.