THE great-granddaughter of one of Britain’s Victoria Cross heroes paid tribute to her ancestor when his restored grave was unveiled in Hendon yesterday.
Susan Kybett, 71, was among dignitaries at a ceremony at Hendon Cemetery to honour Irishman Dudley Stagpoole.
The event was organised by Middlesex Regimental Association after six years of fundraising.
Mr Stagpoole was a Drummer in the 57th Regiment of the Foot, later the Middlesex Regiment, who was awarded both the Victoria Cross and the Medal for Distinguished Conduct within a week of each other for his bravery during the New Zealand Land Wars in 1863, aged about 25.
Mrs Kybett was initially unaware the ceremony was taking place, but dashed from her home in South London after the Times Series contacted another descendent who lives in New Zealand.
Mrs Kybett, said: “At 1.05pm I got an email from my cousin Janine in New Zealand. Fifteen minutes later, I was out the door. I went from Blackheath to Hendon in an hour. I think that’s pretty impressive for a 71-year-old.”
She added: “On the train here I kept thinking, 'Why have I not been to visit the grave?' I think I was waiting for today.
"I think it was meant to be. Now I’m here for the rest of the family and the story of this will go round the world.”
One of Mr Stagpoole’s four wives, Anne Gillard, gave birth to Elsie Jones, who was Susan’s grandmother. Her son Leslie Jones was Susan’s father.
Mr Stagpoole won the Medal for Distinguished Conduct in the Field on September 25, 1863, for an incident in the Taranaki region, when he twice volunteered to bring in wounded men despite being injured himself.
On October 2, at a battlefield nearby, he rescued a comrade injured by Maori fighters. His commanding officer asked for volunteers and Mr Stagpoole, along with Ensign John Thornton Down, brought the man back despite being under heavy fire. For this he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
After later living in Ware, Hertfordshire, Mr Stagpoole died on August 1, 1911, and was buried at Hendon Cemetery, in Holders Hill Road.
The headstone was put up in the Forties, but fell into disrepair.
Rex Cain, president of the Middlesex Regimental Association, led the campaign to restore the grave. He said: “The memorial was in a terrible state. We as the regiment, felt we had a responsibility to do something and for years it hadn’t happened. This year the work was finally completed.”