Month: April 2016

Lydney Town Council Annual Report

I am proud to say that Lydney Town Council has been generous enough to publish a short piece about Escaping Hitler in its Annual Report for 2015-16.  The Annual Meeting was held on 18th April.  The small market town of Lydney in Gloucestershire still holds a place in Joe’s heart, his second home in England, the place that educated him, the people who befriended and cherished him.  On behalf of a 91 year old Kindertransport refugee, I thank them.


Left to right: Günter at 15, Alan Allsopp, Doris Allsopp (mother) and Hazel Allsopp.  This family along with father Eddie cared for the young refugee for four years.



In the freezing January of 1940, a fourteen-year-old Jewish German refugee, Kindertransport boy Günter Stern, arrived in Lydney from Birmingham to join the evacuated Yardley Grammar School. Lodging for three years in Springmeadow with Eddie and Doris Allsopp and their children Alan and Hazel, the boy thrived in their care. He became Deputy Head Boy, passing up a University place to volunteer for the British Army. Over seventy years later, in January 2016, Pen and Sword Books has published Escaping Hitler: A Jewish Boy’s Quest for Freedom and His Future, the biography of Günter’s remarkable ninety-year life.

Norwich writer Phyllida Scrivens spent four years researching the many aspects of 91-year-old Joe Stirling; Günter’s adult name as changed by the British Army; including his time in the Forest of Dean. She says, ‘A letter to The Forester newspaper in 2013 led to Joe being reunited with Hazel Allsopp after many years. In 2014 I visited Lydney, taking tea with resident Barbara Vedmore (née Hyde) who as a girl, was a close neighbour and friend of young Günter. Barbara generously shared fond memories of the young refugee, stories now captured in my book.’

In 1946 Joe married a Norfolk girl and moved to Norwich, his home for nearly seventy years. His destiny was to become a Labour Party Agent, leading member of Lions International, pioneering travel agent and ultimately Sheriff of Norwich in 1975. He would be in his seventies before he learnt of the fate of his parents in the Holocaust.

Joe says, ‘I have never forgotten the kindness of the Allsopp family, the teachers at the school and the people of Lydney. They showed compassion, friendship and tolerance to a German boy in a time of war.’

Learn more at The book is available on and Kindle, or for a copy signed by both author and Joe Stirling, contact Books cost £19.50 plus £4 postage.


Today I received a copy of the poster as being displayed now in the Rhineland village of Nickenich, where Joe Stirling, the subject of Escaping Hitler was born in 1924, then named Günter Stern.  I am travelling to Koblenz on 9th May to speak about Günter’s biography first at the Koblenz Federal Archive on 11th, followed by an illustrated talk in the Pellenzhalle in Nickenich on 13th May.  I will be working with a translator on both occasions – another first for me!  I wish I had studied harder at my German lessons!



I am grateful to Peter Thompson, freelance journalist with the Surrey and Hants News for his recent review of Escaping Hitler, published in this popular newspaper last month. Peter was my first ever ‘Editor’ when he ran the Farnham Herald Newspaper back in the 1990s.  He gave me my first ‘columns’ including the ‘Meeting People’ interview column which proved so prophetic.  I am really pleased with this.  I have signed copies at home so if you would like one (UK only sadly) do please get in touch via my email at  The copies are £19.50 plus £4 postage and packing.  Sales going well, planning now for our presentations in Koblenz and Nickenich in May.  More exciting news to come….



First Ever Lunch with my Publisher!

Such an exciting lunchtime in Norwich!  My first ever publisher, Jon Wright of Pen and Sword Books, drove down from Burnley today to buy me lunch in Jamie Oliver’s Restaurant in the historic Royal Arcade.  We talked about the success so far of Escaping Hitler, the plans for a reprint and paperback edition and the New York publisher Skyhorse who will present it to the U.S. market in January next year.  Then over tagliatelle we touched on my next project, the biographies of the sixteen female Lord Mayor’s of Norwich, and finally Jon shared his views on the various future ideas I currently have on offer!  He was a lovely man, very experienced and knowledgable and I learnt a lot about the volatile and mysterious publishing industry!  It was another wonderful ‘first’ for me in my ever widening life as a debut published author!!! (And my pink cheeks are due to the large glass of pinot grigio!