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Family thankful for ‘miracle’ as cross to Sandwich Bay bait digger Tom Porter washes up year after his death

By Beth Robson

A memorial cross, in honour of a Sandwich Bay bait digger, that was claimed by the sea has washed up exactly a year after he died.

His family, now reunited with the mahogany tribute thanks to an appeal in the Mercury, have hailed it a miracle that it was washed up and returned to them so soon.

Tom Porter, of Cornwall Road, Deal, and latterly of Cornwallis Avenue, Aylesham, who died on November 16, 2015, aged 78.

Siting the cross in memory of Tom Porter in January

Siting the cross in memory of Tom Porter in January

He was renowned in angling circles in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

Step-granddaughter Carly Morris said: “This is truly amazing. We as a family were only down the bay on the Tuesday. We were heartbroken to see the cross had disappeared.”

Sited on the worm-rich sand bed where Tom dug for a living, the family would visit the cross on the lowest tides of the year.

Tom Porter disappeared in Sandwich Bay

Tom Porter disappeared in Sandwich Bay

They took a trip there on the night before the anniversary, accounting for the tide, but came away devastated that it had disappeared, having only been put in place in January.

Miss Morris said: “When we opened the paper on the Thursday, there was the cross.

“You cannot understand what this means as it was exactly one year to the day Tom died [when it was washed up on Wednesday, November 17]. This is truly a miracle. One year to the day – wow!”

This cross for Sandwich Bay bait digger Tom Porter

This cross for Sandwich Bay bait digger Tom Porter

Alan Faulkner, Bay Estate’s site manager, said: “It was a real success and we were able to reunite them with it.” The cross’s inscription reads: “In memory of Tom Porter, the mud lark Sandwich Bay old school bait digger.”

It has been re-sited further away from the sea, safeguarding it from a repeat disappearance.

Tom Porter leaves a daughter and three sons – Vanessa, David, Roger and Leonard – and seven stepchildren.

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