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Ex-beauty queen reunited with piece of her past


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TOGETHER AGAIN: Myrtle Pitt with the long-lost brooch
TOGETHER AGAIN: Myrtle Pitt with the long-lost brooch
BEAUTY: Myrtle Pitt (then Myrtle Fox) when she won the Miss Herne Bay title in 1933
BEAUTY: Myrtle Pitt (then Myrtle Fox) when she won the Miss Herne Bay title in 1933

A BROOCH found on a Kent beach has been reunited with the woman it was presented to 70 years ago.

The only clue to ownership of the crown-shaped diamante piece of jewellery were the words Herne Bay Beauty Queen 1933 engraved on the back.

But a trail of inquiries led the Herne Bay Gazette newspaper to Myrtle Pitt (nee Fox) and the chance to reunite her with this little piece of her past, stolen in a burglary four years ago.

The brooch was sent to the newspaper by Geoff Phillips, of Bristol, who had found it on the shoreline at Herne Bay. "I tried to find out a little more about it at the time," he said. "Recently, I came across it again and thought you might stand a chance of reuniting it with the owner."

Herne Bay Carnival Association chairman Andy Birkett had researched his group's history so was able to say who held the first Miss Herne Bay title. Myrtle Pitt was tracked down to a nursing home in Canterbury.

She remembered having to provide her own gowns for the functions she attended. She even used her wedding dress for some occasions.

She recalls her maid of honour was Rita Williams. "I used to go to things in the town like presenting prizes at the regatta and attend special ballroom days," she said, "and there was the carnival. That was good fun.

"I remember we had a garden party out at Broomfield when they gave me the brooch."

Mrs Pitt later gave the brooch to her daughter. After the 1999 burglary, some small items were recovered on Herne Bay beach where they had been dropped.

"Someone found a jeweller's receipt with our name and address and contacted us to say there were lots of beads and things in the ladies' loo down there," she said.

As a young woman Mrs Pitt ran her own dance school in the Beach Street premises later used by the Hasland School of Dance, along with Gracie Skinner, wife of the then-popular comedian Ben Warriss.

"I taught folk, ballroom, tap, and ballet, until I had my family," said Mrs Pitt.

That family includes two children, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

The brooch may have lost a little of its original sparkle but it has rekindled happy memories for a woman who once served the town.

"It was good being Miss Herne Bay," she said. "It was a position held in some regard and I got to meet lots of different people."

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