Today the news went public – an autobiographical piece I wrote recently for the Jarrold 250 Short Story Competition was awarded with a special commendation and it is now available to read at their website, along with the four winning stories, all inspired by everyone’s … Continue reading Story of Escaping Hitler book launch commended in Jarrold short story competition
Delighted to announce that Joe Stirling’s obituary, as submitted by local writer Tom Carver, has today, 23rd May, 2020, been published in a UK national newspaper, The Guardian. Probably the first national to carry a photograph of my book cover; its been a long time coming! So pleased that Joe’s remarkable story has now reached an even greater audience. Joe would be thrilled to see his obituary, alongside other luminaries, inside a national newspaper…..
Mindful that in early November Joe and I will be undertaking our final speaking engagement of 2017, to the good ladies of the Hopton-on-Sea Women’s Institute, I thought I would take a look through our visits since Escaping Hitler was published in January 2016. I was amazed at the number of groups I/we have spoken to, resulting in nearly 300 signed books sold following the talks. If you then add in sales directly from book exhibitions and individual readers approaching me online or via the telephone, total direct sales amount to 891 and counting! Unbelievable. I thought you might be interested in seeing the list of talks, the vast majority of which were in Norwich and surrounding area. (Photo taken at Norfolk Record Office on 8th February 2017) Thanks to all those who have invited us. We already have 11 dates in the diary for 2018!
ESCAPING HITLER 64 Speaking Engagements in Norfolk and beyond during 2016 and 2017
|Norwich Ladies Luncheon Club|
|Old Catton Women’s Institute|
|Official Launch at Jarrolds Department Store, Norwich|
|Belton Women’s Institute|
|Norwich North Liberal Democrats|
|Norwich Chamber Music Club|
|Wymondham Heritage Society|
|The Norfolk Club|
|Norwich Community History Group|
|Out and about Club|
|Mercedes Benz Owners Club evening|
|Walsingham Historical Society|
|East Anglia Women Networking Group|
|Brooke Women’s Institute|
|Lions International Regional Conference, Colchester|
|Sunday Assembly, Norwich|
|Association of Jewish Refugees|
|Mid Norfolk Family History Society|
|Rotary Club of Norwich St Edmund|
|Attleborough Public Library|
|Koblenz Federal Archive, Rhineland|
|The village of Nickenich, Rhineland|
|Great Hospital Group|
|Townswomen Guild Central Norwich Group|
|Mulbarton Words Week|
|Townwomen’s Guild Eaton Group|
|East Anglia Festival of Culture, Lowestoft|
|Wymondham British Legion|
|Recycled Teenagers Group|
|Norwich Business Women’s Network|
|Norwich Inter-faith Group|
|Liberal Democrat Regional Conference|
|Time Travellers Meeting, Heritage Centre, Forum|
|Sprowston History Group|
|Norwich Lunchtime Women’s Institute|
|Bure School, Aylsham|
|Norwich Ladies Luncheon Club|
|UEA Retirement Group|
|Paston College, North Walsham|
|Norwich Labour Party History Group|
|The Norwich School|
|Norfolk Record Office|
|Vale Probus Club Ladies’ Lunch|
|Koblenz Norwich Friendship Society AGM|
|Unison Trade Union Retired Members Norfolk Branch|
|Wymondham Sixth Form College|
|Salvation Army Ladies’ Fellowship|
|Mid Norfolk Family History Society|
|Civil Service Retirement Fellowship|
|Easton Women’s Institute|
|Maddermarket Theatre for Performance of Kindertransport|
|Beccles Probus Club|
|Lakenham Townswomen’s Guild|
|Catton Townswomen’s Guild|
|Mileham W.I. Near King’s Lynn|
|Holt Women’s Institute|
|Get Together Group Norwich Theatre Royal|
|Brooklands Care Home, Taverham|
|The Probus Club of Wymondham and District
Broadland Housing Association, Dereham
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.
Joe Stirling, the subject of Escaping Hitler: A Jewish Boy’s Quest for Freedom and His Future, is 92 years old today, 18th October 2016. I dropped in to see him this morning, taking him a published copy of this blog, going back four years.
In honour of his birthday, I have now posted a video onto Youtube taken in December 2012 by Roger Hewins, Lecturer in Film and Video Production at the University of East Anglia. It shows Joe in his living room in Norwich, telling me the story of his early life. It runs to over an hour, so grab a coffee, settle down and listen to Joe’s story from his own lips. These tales and so many more are told in great detail in my biography, as published by Pen and Sword Books in January 2016 and to be published in America by Skyhorse Publishing next January 3rd. Enjoy and Happy Birthday Joe! (If you would like your own signed copy see the menu of this blog for instructions of how to buy).
Joe and I had a wonderful evening yesterday (18th July 2016) visiting members of the Royal British Legion, in the picturesque Norfolk town of Wymondham. There was an excellent audience for our presentation on Joe’s biography, Escaping Hitler, and you could have heard a pin drop during Joe’s 30 minute long talk about his early life in Nazi Germany. I picked up the story when he joins the British Army, showing some photographs from Joe’s years as a soldier, rarely seen at our talks. They especially enjoyed the photo of Maryhill Barracks in Glasgow (whispers of ‘I trained there’) and the one of Joe’s wife Jean inside a shell casing at Bramley Barracks near Basingstoke.
There were people there who had known Joe in past years and he was delighted to share personal memories with them. A retired member of Lions Club International endorsed Joe’s wonderful work with them for over fifty years. We felt very welcome and were impressed by the large number of books we signed at the end of the evening! Our thanks go to Chairman John Morter and Entertainments Officer Roy McGee for inviting us to share Joe’s remarkable story with your members.
This morning I had the pleasure of meeting again with Günter Hahn from the Norwich-Koblenz Friendship Association, who was my translator from the Bundesarchiv Escaping Hitler book event in Koblenz on 11th May (far left of photo). He is visiting Norwich for just two nights, along with the Oberbürgermeister of Koblenz, Prof. Dr. Joachim Hofmann-Göttig (far right of photo). It is the Lord Mayor’s first visit to Norwich, a trip which has included a concert at the Cathedral (where he met Joe Stirling), a trip to the Sainsbury’s Centre at UEA and lunch at the Britannia Cafe next to the Prison! The Lord Mayor was delightful and I gave him a copy of my book, signed by both me and Joe of course! I hope he has a longer stay in our fine city on his next visit to Norwich.
On 21st May 1946 Joe Stirling married his sweetheart Jean Skitmore in St Mary’s Church, Attleborough. They were both in Army uniform. Only three years earlier the groom’s birth name of Günter Stern had been officially changed by the British Army to Günter Stirling. The young soldiers in the barracks dubbed him Joe and the Jewish Kindertransport boy from the Rhineland village of Nickenich has been called that to this day.
In Church that day in 1946, Joe was sadly the only representative of the groom’s side but Jean’s family turned out in force from the Norfolk villages and towns around Attleborough. Today it is 70 years since that momentous occasion, a union that would produce four children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren (more on the way!). The couple were happily married for nearly sixty years, but sadly Jean passed away after a long illness in 2002. Joe misses her every day. Today I am thinking of them.
My thanks to Jarrold book department in Norwich for a spectacular book launch and signing last evening, Thursday 4th February. I had the joy of launching my debut book in front of over 200 history and book lovers, including family, friends, local historians, writers, academics and followers of my subject Joe Stirling. I spoke from a podium, using a hand microphone for about 45 minutes, before inviting 91 year old Joe to join me for a question and answer session. Unusually I aimed my address at honouring those in the audience who gave up their time over the past four years to share memories of Joe with me. Joe was amazing answering half a dozen questions and we both enjoyed the unexpectedly strenuous task of signing over 60 books for those buying a book on the night. An evening never to be forgotten and with over 25 public speaking events in my diary throughout 2016, there are many more opportunities to share Joe’s story and to sign and sell books……
The website events page of Jarrold Department Store in Norwich has just been updated – I appear as top billing above both Ruby Wax and Father Christmas! Who would have thought it! Details of this launch for Escaping Hitler can be found at http://www.jarrold.co.uk/events-diary/events-list but sadly the store is still having technical difficulties with online ticket sales. As soon as they are rectified I will get back on the blog and let you know. Tickets can, however, be bought at Customer Services, Floor 2 of the city centre store. I feel nearly famous!!!