On Wednesday 22nd July 2015, Joe Stirling, the subject of Escaping Hitler: A Jewish Boy’s Quest for Freedom and His Future, attended the Graduation Ceremony Literature and Creative Writing students at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. He was my honoured guest, along with my husband Victor Scrivens. Joe had been an instrumental part in me taking the Master of Arts Degree in Biography and Creative Non-Fiction, so it was fitting that he should witness the grand finale of my efforts. As Joe’s biographer I was proud to show him off to my friends and colleagues. He and Victor sat in the front row, meaning I was able to see them as I nervously crossed the stage towards the Vice-Chancellor to shake his hand and receive my treasured certificate. A very happy day.
This piece of footage from Norwich Sunday Assembly shows Joe Stirling, the hero of my biography Escaping Hitler, talking recently to a packed hall about his early life. At 90 years old he is still able to hold an audience in the palm of his hand. The book, to be published in January 2016 by Pen and Sword Books, will give all this information and so much more, including anecdotal stories from those who were and still are close to him. The book covers nine decades of this man’s wonderful life from his childhood in Nazi Germany to his arrival in England on the Kindertransport, his education and life with two foster families, joining the British Army, meeting his wife, living in Attleborough, joining the Labour Party, working with Shirley Williams on her first by-election, taking high office in Lions International, setting up his own pioneering travel company Stirling Holidays, bringing up four children, travelling the world, becoming Sheriff of Norwich and finally discovering the fate of his parents. Keep an eye on this blog for more information about publication dates, signings and how to buy your own signed copy….
An update on the author for all followers of Escaping Hitler – last evening I was proud to take on the role of Chair of Norwich Writers’ Circle, the second oldest amateur writing club in the UK, starting in 1943 and continuing every since. Our previous Chair, Adrian Dearnley, stood down after three excellent years and it is now down to my committee and me to take the Circle forward with new exciting projects and plans. At last night’s AGM I was also delighted to be awarded two trophies, won during this last season. Firstly I was presented with the trophy for the inaugural Past Search Prize for Non-Fiction. Photo shows me with Gill Blanchard, the sponsor of the prize. Gill is a professional genealogist and writer and you can find her website at http://www.pastsearch.co.uk.
Secondly I was thrilled to find I had come joint first in the overall competition for the most points gained for competition entries. I share this honour with Maureen Nisbet, writer for children and accomplished illustrator.
So a good night all round!
And I’m expecting the draft for Escaping Hitler back from the editor any day now! Then the hard work begins to fine tune the book ready for you lovely people to read during the dark winter of 2016!