On Wednesday 8th February, I was honoured to give a talk at the iconic Norfolk Record Office where so much wonderful research material, stretching from far off medieval times, is stored. I have spent many happy hours pouring over documents and photographs AND NOW I was here as a guest lunchtime speaker. About fifty people turned up to see my brand new slide show, outlining the remarkable life of Kindertransport refugee Joe Stirling, whose destiny was to become Sheriff of Norwich (and so much more!) The audience were attentive and respectful as I described my research journey, including ‘footstepping’ his parents’ final forced walk through Koblenz in March 1942, on their way to Poland and their deaths at Sobibor death camp. Happier photos followed and the audience were delighted when Joe stood to join me for a question and answer session. He answered four or five questions in his usual eloquent style. And then we signed books! Very very pleased and our thanks go to Karen Gaffney and her team at NRO who organised the event. And for all the tweets they were sending out!
Cannot believe it is exactly 12 months today since our Grand Launch in Jarrold. It was one of the most thrilling moments of my life when I came into the room to be greeted by 220 relatives, friends and members of the public. And then to see Joe Stirling at the front, just as I had always imagined it might be. The two of us at our launch book signing! And since then it has gone from strength to strength, the first print run of 1,300 books by Pen and Sword Books selling out before Christmas, a reprint, a visit to Germany to give two talks and sell books, over 40 public speaking engagements, most of them with Joe, and now in January this year the book has been published and launched in the U.S. by Skyhorse Publications of New York. Loads of coverage and reviews in the press and in magazines such as the Association of Jewish Refugees and Lions Clubs International, nearly 500 followers on Facebook. Wonderful progress – and all the while researching for my second book! Just wanted to share my joy with you.
Yesterday, 1st February Joe Stirling and I gave a presentation about Escaping Hitler to students and staff at @NorwichHigh (Norwich High School for Girls). We were part of the excellent Lunch and Learn scheme where anyone is welcome to join a speaker at lunchtime in the library space and enjoy a buffet lunch while listening…. everyone was so welcoming. The students were mesmerised as ever by Joe telling his personal story of life as a Jewish boy in Nazi Germany. Our visit was timed to be as near as possible to Holocaust Memorial Day and we ended our slide show with a tribute to Joe’s parents, Alfred and Ida,who were murdered in Sobibor in 1942.
Also poignant was that Jane, Joe’s eldest child, won a scholarship to Norwich High School back in the late 1950s. This is the main reason the family moved to the Unthank Road. Joe and his wife Jean would have visited the school many times for parents evenings, concerts, sports days, bazaars and the like! The story is documented in Escaping Hitler and it is wonderful to think that my book will remain their stunning new Library for the girls to read for years to come.
Our thanks to Mr Emerson-Moering for inviting us to speak. Photos courtesy of Emily Marchant, Communications Officer.