A MEDAL from the First World War discovered on a building site has been handed over to the grandson of its original owner, thanks to an appeal in The Northern Echo.

Colin Hodgson, of West Cornforth, County Durham, was given the Victory Medal from a friend who found it while digging the foundations for new houses in Trimdon Village, near Sedgefield, earlier this year.

Keen to reunite it with its rightful owners, he contacted local historian Andy Denholm, who has carried out extensive research on the Great War and the part played by County Durham soldiers.

His research revealed the medal was awarded to a Robert Henry Brown, who was originally from the Newcastle area but moved to Wingate in about 1911, before settling in Trimdon Grange.

Mr Denholm contacted The Northern Echo and an article was published appealing for Mr Brown's descendants to come forward.

He did not have to wait long for a response as Allan Walker, from Kirk Merrington, was convinced the medal belonged to his grandfather.

After contacting Mr Denholm to find out more, Mr Walker phoned Mr Brown’s only surviving child, his aunt, Mary Ann Jackson nee Brown, and his suspicions were confirmed.

This week, Mr Walker, 65, who grew up in Trimdon Grange, collected the medal on his aunt’s behalf.

“It’s hard to describe how I feel,” he said. “When I read the article I knew it must be my grandfather as there cannot of been that many Robert Henry Browns in Trimdon at that time.

"It is wonderful it is back in the family. My aunt now lives down south and I plan to pass the medal to her so she can give it to her son.”

Mr Denholm uncovered a great deal about Mr Brown’s life through his research.

Born in South Shields in 1891, Mr Brown was a miner living in the Kelloe Winnings area of County Durham when war broke out.

He enlisted at Deaf Hill Colliery in September 1914 and went to France a year later, serving as 22143 Private with the 15th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry.

In May 1916, he was discharged from the Army due to shrapnel wounds to the head, which resulted in him losing an eye.

For the rest of his life he suffered with terrible chest and stomach pains caused by gas in the trenches.

As well as the Victory Medal, Mr Brown, who died in 1959, was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Silver War Badge.

He and his wife, Margaret, had three children, Robert Henry, Mary-Ann and Audrey, Mr Walker’s mother.

Mr Denholm said: “Medals like these are invaluable and irreplaceable. I am so pleased it is back with Mr Brown’s family where it belongs.”